Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos: Cheat the Devil Review

‘Go ROO yourself’ isn’t an insult. It’s a call to immerse yourself in some of the best funk/blues/rock I’ve been introduced to in a long time! Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos latest release Cheat the Devil totally blindsided this blues rock fan. Part of this is their relatively small body of work to consume over nearly a decade. It is certainly not about quality of work!

Rosano, a New York native, resides in Virginia where the band formed in 2012 and quickly built a local following. Within months of forming, they made the Semi Finals at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Get ROOD, the band’s debut album was released in 2014. Touring followed with the band playing festivals, standalone shows, and openers in venues large and small. They shared the stage with Tab Benoit, Hamilton Loomis, Trampled under Foot, and Albert Castiglia, as well as more traditional blues artists like Rick Estrin and the Nightcats and Big Joe and the Dyna Flows. ROO’D Awakening, a live album, was released 2016.

More prominence came their way in 2017 with the band’s sophomore release, the self-titled (and self-released) Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos. It debuted at #9 on Billboard blues and made #1 on the iTunes blues chart. Produced by Mike Zito, it features performances by Zito, Anders Osborne, and Johnny Sansone. This deserves a listen in its own right. More touring saw the band open for artists like Samantha Fish, Bob Seger, ZZ Top, and Gov’t Mule.

Things came to a halt with the COVID lockdown in 2020. Anthony played live stream acoustic shows to his fans on Facebook. One of the new streaming songs “Isolation Blues” found its way to NPR for “Voice of America”. Rosano said “I did it at first just to stay sane, performing live is something I NEED to do… It’s part of my makeup. I hoped it would help others get some sort of comfort and forget about what was going on for a little bit.”  The Conqueroos also saw a changing of the guard with Kyle McCormick coming in on drums and Jake Fultz on bass. They would sign with Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records in 2022. This is the group that would create Cheat the Devil with Benoit in the producers’ chair.

It’s easy to hear the Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and Rory Gallagher comparisons that have been drawn around the band’s sound. All are present here, along with some hints of Black Sabbath on tracks like “What Kind of Fool” and “Scattered Bones”.  “Sin City” shares an ominous theme with “Scattered Bones” with ‘torch my soul to set it free, burn that bridge, and move on to Sin City’.  

The title track “Cheat the Devil” is a bit more direct ‘you can’t cheat the devil; he’s bound to win. He’ll make you pay with your soul for each and every sin.’  The funky groove of “Jonesboro Road” warns of going down the wrong path ‘Don’t go down to Jonesboro there’s people down there you don’t want to know’. Yes, but it sure sounds fun. “Sweet Little Devil”, “My Baby Gets Around”, and “Keeps Adding Up” all have the bad woman blues narrative. Each are brought to life behind the blistering guitar and driving rhythm of this power trio. “What Kind of Fool” also has this theme with a strong Zeppelin style blues sound. “Rosalita,” a song about leaving your love and the hope to return, is one my personal favorites and closest you will get to a rock ballad. The album closes with a sizzling cover of the classic “King Bee”.

Cheat the Devil is full of sass, funk, and high voltage guitar. You’ll be possessed to dance, shred your air guitar, wince, and nod all at the same time. Stay away from mirrors and mobile devices. You’ve been ROO’d!

The Review 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Sweet Little Devil
– What Kind of Fool
– Rosalita
– King Bee
– Cheat the Devil

Big Hit

– Cheat the Devil

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