‘Resting Sad Face’ paves way for up and coming Chico legend


Mario Ortiz

Roni Jean performing live at Freebird Yoga

Lush and intoxicating are words that best describe the music of Chico State’s own Roni Jean and their debut album, “Resting Sad Face.” 

Roni Jean proves to be not just another face in the crowd of independent college student artists making music. 

The album consists of eight tracks, all produced by Chico State alumnus Happy Sunbean, and rounds out at 37 minutes. 

The production is beautiful, bright, atmospheric and punchy. 

Roni Jean flexes their musical fundamentals with each song, from solid song structures to good songwriting and a tasteful mix of instrumentation. 

Roni Jean (left) and Happy Sunbean (Right)

The album starts with “Gold in the Way,” a track where we hear an acoustic guitar with Roni Jean’s lush, reverb vocals. We hear the beautiful ear candy of lap steel and bells. Then the band quickly joins in and it’s a smooth, mid-tempo song.

The second song “Almost Not Ideal” delivers a chaotic, rhythmic post-punk intro and verse. This is one of my favorite choruses; the slick, laid-back drumming and the chord progression with the lyrics work together to create an infectiously catchy hook.

The song “Pretend You’re Not There” is one of the album’s high points. It comes later in the album with its fuzzed-out guitar riffs straight out of The Queens of the Stone Age or a Jack White album. It makes for a solid rock track.

The album ends with “Darkened Lens,” the longest song at 6 minutes and 28 seconds. This song is ambitious. It throws a number of instruments at the listener, like a saxophone, strings and more bells. The song also has an epic, two-minute ending with the instrumentation building up. It’s topped off by a killer saxophone solo. The additional lush vocals come in like soft pads just add to the brilliance of this song.

It’s not a perfect album. The reverb on the vocals, even though it adds to the whole vibe of the album, can get a little tiresome after a while, occasionally leading to washed out vocals. 

Additionally, Roni Jean wears their influences, like Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, on their sleeves.

Nonetheless, “Resting Sad Face” establishes Roni Jean as a must-listen artist right in the center of Chico’s music scene. 

Check out this interview where I sat down with Roni Jean and discussed their music. 

To see Roni Jean live in Chico they play next at Argus Bar + Patio on June 23, Gnarly Deli on July 13 and Chico BikeFest on July 30.

Mario Ortiz can be reached at [email protected] or @realnameismario on Twitter.