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Rogue Wave
Asleep At Heaven's Gate
Brushfire Records
www.roguewavemusic.com


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.

-Susan Frances

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