Rogue Wave has often been compared to avant-folk rockers
like The Shins and Camera Obscura with a respectable
measure of lo-fi rock akin to artists like Death Cab For Cutie
and Iron & Wine. Such comparisons still hold true for
Rogue Wave's third album Asleep At Heaven's Gate, released
by Jack Johnson's label Brushfire Records. As the follow
up to their debut album Out Of The Shadow in 2004 and Descended
Like Vultures in 2005, the San Francisco-Bay Area quartet
stayed true to their roots with a record that reflects their inclination
for California-folk and mild rising rock providing an attraction
that's relatable to The Polyphonic Spree and Gomez.
It's not too loud, but has just enough stimulation to conduct
an Arcade Fire jamboree.
Produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater
Kinney, Elvis Costello) and the band's lead singer/keyboardist
Zach Rogue, the album has more intricate detailing and
symphonic lifts than anything Rogue Wave has ever manufactured
before. The album opens to a bright sonic spritz heralding "Harmonium"
which proceeds into a lavish symphony of acoustic and rock harmonies
with an avant-folk leaning. The rhythm section of bassist Patrick
Abernathy and drummer Patrick Spurgeon promenade a
catchy tapping beat through "Like I Needed" as guitarist
Gram LeBron lights up the drum fills with radiating chords.
The dynamics furl and unfurl with a tight syncopation that sows
a melodic timing that can contend with the best of them. The folksy
vibe of the percussions on "Chicago x 12" is sequenced
with perky keyboards and vigorously strummed guitars displaying
a likeness to Death Cab For Cutie, while the tribal beating and
laid-back California-folk tones of "Lake Michigan" have
reflections of The Postal Service.
The dream-pop shading of "Lullaby" have the lo-fi
rock stoking of The 1900s while also making this melody one
of the most memorable on the album. The soft country-folk tempo
of "Christians In Black" is reposing as the female
vocal harmonies accentuate the cushiony ride of the gentle symphony.
Keeping with a country theme is the uptempo tune "Own Your
Own Home" docking a country-frequency through the pulsating
harmonies and drum lifts. The rock-tinged folk mixture of "Ghost"
have a let-loose festiveness like Camera Obscura's libations,
while the lo-fi sensibilities of "Missed" have sonic
hangings similar to Gomez. The California-folk atmospherics
of "Fantasies" are melodically versed, while the angular
avant-folk tones of "Phonytown" pierce the melody
with moments of disoriented chord movements. The final number
"Cheaper Than Therapy" is a smooth rock ballad with
wispy string and piano arrangements that bring to light Rogue
Wave's more vulnerable side.
Asleep At Heaven's Gate has everything that their fans
have come to enjoy about Rogue Wave, as well as being able to
move them forward with the times. The album features background
vocals from Matthew Caws of Nada Surf and John
Vanderslice. There are many aspects about these songs which
give Rogue Wave more creativity and credibility as recording artists.
Many of their songs have been featured on prime-time television
shows in the past, and this album also suffices that need for
music that speaks of people's quiet introspections.
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