Release Date: Jun 4, 2013
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Rogue Wave move onwards and upwards. The Oakland band have experienced more than their fair share of life’s adversities through health issues and death. In spite of trials that would throw anyone off course, the band, including original members Zach Rogue and Pat Spurgeon, have gotten right back on track for album number five. Enlisting the expertise of producer John Congleton (David Byrne & St.
Rogue Wave are one of the few bands keeping the legacy of the Beatles' songwriting alive and doing it well. As the pervading trend in modern music is toward rhythm based forms that de-emphasize melody and harmony, they ride a different wave, if you’ll pardon the expression. Call it a throwback if you like, but I say more fool you. While their fellow tunesmiths, The Shins, have decided to grow and therefore don’t write good songs any more, Rogue Wave isn’t wavering from the formula that got them tepid props in Indieworld.
The career arc of Zach Rogue and his band Rogue Wave is a pretty classic indie rock story. Starting off as a lo-fi one-man bedroom pop project and releasing the classic Out of the Shadows album, Rogue next formed a band, and over the course of three albums, expanded their sound (Descended Like Vultures), ruined it by getting too slick (Asleep at Heaven's Gate), then reacted by stripping things way down and adding a lot of vintage synths (Permalight). Now, on Rogue Wave's fifth album, Nightingale Floors, the band seem to have leveled off and made a record that folds all the elements of their previous work into one tightly wrapped package.
Rogue Wave has had a very "indie" career—from the band's jangly, sensitive aesthetic and critical acclaim to its prevalence on television and film soundtracks and, unfortunately, relative anonymity to mainstream listeners. In other words, for a band of its caliber and songwriting prowess, its career arc has probably felt lackluster both to its members and their fans. .
Review Summary: Rogue Wave make it back to shore.Rogue Wave have never been one to rock the boat – if anything, their moniker seems a better fit for the band’s almost cosmically unlucky hardships than their “safe” brand of mid-‘00s college indie. It’s perhaps why Permalight received such a critical and commercial backlash upon its release in 2010. Rogue Wave was still Rogue Wave, frontman Zach Schwartz and drummer Patrick Spurgeon still the soul and beating heart of the band, and the hooks still sparkly and cleverly hiding the ache that has permeated so much of their work.
Rogue Wave is a band inappropriately named. They take their nom de plume from a certain oceanographic phenomenon in which large, dangerous waves arise out of nowhere in the middle of the ocean. It’s better to divorce the band’s name from the freak seaward occurrences because if such a phenomenon is meant to conjure up ideas of the sounds on Nightingale Floors, such a title fails.
Rogue Wave’s past decade has been defined by two reputations that seem unrelated on the surface. The first is that they excel at a kind of jangly, chiming, and softly anthemic iteration of indie rock that made a lot of television music supervisors’ jobs easier in the mid-2000s. The other is that the Oakland band has incredibly shitty luck. Rogue Wave does everything earnestly, and in the last couple of years, they’ve tried in earnest to shed these reputations.
Over the past 11 years and four albums, Rogue Wave have had a miscellaneous cast revolving around original members Zach Rogue and Pat Spurgeon. While the faces have changed, their sound, barring the disappointing electro of fourth album ‘Permalight’, has largely remained the same. With this, their fifth, they’re back to the jangling, melodic indie rock they do so well.
More than three years removed from 2010’s letdown Permalight, Rogue Wave’s garish foray into synthesized electro-pop, singer/songwriter/guitarist Zach Rogue is framing Nightingale Floors as something of a comeback. Although Permalight debuted respectably at #149 on the Billboard 200 — Rogue Wave’s highest chart positioning to date — this nascent pulse was short-lived; sales fell off quickly and sharply before languishing at a disappointing 21,000. Given that svelte predecessors Asleep At Heaven’s Gate and Descended Like Vultures had each moved more than twice that many copies, dismissing Permalight as a misstep wasn’t much of a stretch.
Rogue Wave, like so many independent pop artists, is a collection of lucid and emotive memories in the minds of his listeners. Maybe it was the gut-crunching “California” heard first on a downtown A-train, or “Eyes” in the midst of a perfectly terrible break up, or “Lake Michigan”, the lead track of a brave little mixtape sent to a light-eyed girl in Montana when it might as well have been shot into space. Mastermind Zach Rogue possesses the sort of sheepish every-man charm that always manages to democratize his pain and minor triumphs: his successes seem so simple, they are easy to claim, and his terrors so common they are practically adoptable.
These days it’s pure analog-thinking to believe a time-capsule should have at least a quarter-century in the ground before we crack it open and marvel at the weird shit people used to get up to. Case in point, Nightingale Floors, the latest from Oakland, Ca.-based Rogue Wave, a turn-of-the-century historical glitch in today’s indie music world. On Rogue Wave’s last release, 2010’s Permalight, Zach Schwartz (a.k.a., Zach Rogue) seemed like he was combating the band’s increasingly anachronistic sound, and the record veered awkwardly between their familiar guitar-based indie and a new-found dance-pop.