It’s ironic that Rogue Wave took its name from the textbook term for spontaneously forming waves on the ocean’s surface, for the band has been quite predictable over the years—that is, until Permalight. The band’s fourth studio album strays from gentle indie rock and delves into spurts of dance tempos, synth-driven melodies and highly processed recordings. Although the Oakland, California-based outfit bookends the record with lo-fi charm—the free-spirited “Solitary Gun” and stripped-bare “All That Remains”—Permalight also uncharacteristically departs into euphoric yet contrived electro-pop.
Zach Rogue spent much of the time before the recording of Rogue Wave's fourth album, Permalight, confined to bed rest as a slipped disc or two in his neck healed and he gained back the use of his arm. An experience like that could send a songwriter in one of two directions; writing bleak, life-is-hell songs, or fighting back with upbeat, sunny songs, celebrating triumph over adversity. Rogue mostly chose option number two here.
Going rogue, falling flat In the three years since Rogue Wave’s last album, frontman Zach Rogue has discovered the synthesizer. This isn’t bad in theory, but in practice the newfound instrument does little to lift Rogue Wave to the next level. Tracks like the (unfortunately) club-influenced “Good Morning” would be satisfying without the ticking drum-machine and discotheque sampler.
Do you know what it's like to have a slipped disc in your neck? I do, and if it weren't for the spinal tap and blood patch procedures that followed, it would probably be the most painful experience in my life. Rogue Wave singer/guitarist Zach Rogue suffered two slipped discs in his neck, essentially rendering him paralyzed for a span of months. When his condition improved and the songwriting muse began to call again, like many who've been laid up for a significant time, it seems like he just wanted his life back: Rogue made Permalight, the most active, physical, and fun album the Oakland band has ever released.
Rogue Wave, originally a Bright Eyes-style one man band helmed by Zach Rogue with assistance from Nathan Petty and Alex Sterling, has experienced an interesting and personally disappointing progression over the past six years. Shortly after getting caught up in the post-Garden State/O.C. wave of indie pop, Rogue decided to recruit a full band and fill out his sound.
To say that Rogue Wave’s Permalight is a two-faced record is critical understatement at its finest. At times an acoustic, SoCal splendor that illuminates the Oakland quartet’s folksy charisma, the album often commits inexplicable about-faces, leaving its listeners with jarring electrified pop experiments ill-suited to Rogue Wave’s mien. As such, Permalight is a startling contrast in subdued grace and awkward severity, alternately rewarding and punishing as the band seeks to craft a new voice without entirely abandoning the old.
DANNY GOKEY“My Best Days”(19/RCA Nashville) Last year Danny Gokey placed third on “American Idol,” his transcendent moment coming early in the competition, when he covered Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” in a roaring, pained, audacious performance that almost shattered the original. So Mr. Gokey is a country singer, right? Not exactly.
Categorizing Rogue Wave as "indie" now qualifies as a misclassification. Being on Sub Pop, as the Bay Area act was for its first two LPs, still gives you that kind of moniker, and when the band jumped to Jack Johnson's Brushfire label, it wasn't overly concerned about editing for space on 2007's Asleep at Heaven's Gate, making the nest a little deeper in that pigeonhole. For its latest, Permalight, the band is content to cram a few hooks into its pop concoctions and get on with things.