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Actress Ready for L.A. Close-Up

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Damn good music hijacks my emotional control and sends me spinning. It takes me from zero to melancholy, electric, exuberant, and horny in five seconds or less. So, I know the band Actress is damn good because their shows send me to the edge of bursting with good feeling. It's clear that this band has a passion for the music, but it occurs to me more than once during the show—maybe Actress enjoys being up there because they're just really f'ing good at what they do. My girls and I leave the show with damp panties.

You could compare their sound to the Killers, and their vibe to ‘60s rock, but that's just for point of reference. Actress is like Havarti—it's got flavor that is distinct, well-developed, and all its own.
Aaron Ficchi is a naturally gifted singer. He hits his vocal sweet spots across the octaves so effortlessly that his vocals seem less like singing than melodic release. It's the soaring vibrato; it's the airy crooning of bright, catchy melodies punctuated with "GO"s belted at perfect pitch. Aaron Ficchi doesn't have to try. He just works. His icon-worthy good looks and signature get-ups—tight slacks, flashy white boots, retro shades, and startling baby blues—-paint a pretty good picture of this band's playful-but-sophisticated, trendy-but-grounded personality.

Drummer Josh Ficchi plays the drums like he must lay his lovers. He throws out a self-assured, fiery rhythm. The percussive accompaniment is fast-paced and energetic, propelling tunes forward. In spite of that velocity, the music feels deliberate and composed.

Catch Jay Dawson moving back and forth between the synth and guitar—sometimes crouched over, working both instruments simultaneously. With the synth element adding so much to the band's personality, it's pretty impressive to watch him handle both instruments to perfection.
Bassist Frankie Siragusa grounds the major chords, and this last 25% of the action is no less central to its sound. A multi-talented musician, the group is quick to acknowledge the impact of his musical abilities on Actress' recent development.

I met up with three of the foursome for drinks and a chat at Dresden in Hollywood. The lights in the dining room were dimmed, so the interview felt like a date. If it was one, I would have been hankering for a second. Confident but not arrogant, obliging and comfortable, they made me giggle and tried the escargot with me at my insistence. I was charmed to a minor crush.

Aaron and Josh Ficchi are brothers, but they don't look alike. Their fashion sensibilities are not even close. The only real clue to their kinship is how relaxed they are in one another's company—finishing one another's stories about their shared past in Tennessee. Born to a pair of traveling gospel singers, they spent a lot of time moving around the South, living out of a big tour bus. They later began a musical career of their own in their home state before rolling westward toward the bizarre, shining paradise that is the Los Angeles music scene.

With a pretty clear vision for their next project and a good idea of their potential to rock their way to the top, they drew out the other half of Actress from Craigslist to form a four piece band with Jay and Frankie. Frankie, who's been messing around with the bass from the tender age of five, spoke positively about the lively L.A. music scene, comparing his quality time with enthusiastic L.A. fans to his more frustrated experiences with relatively scarce music followers in the Bay Area. We're happy to oblige.

Still relatively new around these parts, Actress has played a handful of shows since its conception at venues like Key Club, Bordello, and Hotel Café, but their schedule is filling up fast. You can catch Actress headlining at some impressive hotspots like the Viper Room in the near future.

Currently, their shows feature songs from their EP "It's Not Like You'd Even Notice." Frankie's expertise in recording and mixing made it possible for the band to record and produce this EP on their own. This isn't to say they don't have a host of producers and reps busting down their doors for an opportunity to work with a band that is making waves seconds after landing its first gig in L.A. Check out tracks now on myspace.com/actress, then download your favorites when the EP hits iTunes in February or March. But I have to say, to experience the magic, you've really got to see a show.

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