Rogue Wave

By - Nov 1st, 2005 02:52 pm
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By Erin Wolf


When Rogue Wave appeared on the radar in 2003 with their barely recognized Out of the Shadow, they could have ridden the sizeable Kinks-revival waves that The Shins started churning.

But that wasn’t quite in the cards for this California band when push came to shoving them into their next recording. After building from singer/guitarist Zach Schwartz’ material on the first go, the second time around sees Rogue Wave expanding their pigeonhole by recruiting more melodies from drummer Pat Spurgeon, guitarist Gram Lebron and bassist Evan Farrell, now all full-fledged contributors.

In Descended Like Vultures, Schwartz’s marvelously mellow, warm voice is played up, shining like a sunbeam through the tangle of guitar hooks, keyboards and layered drumming, as well as the bells and whistles that are part and parcel of most Sub Pop releases. Yet this sonic wall is memorable mostly because of its drive. The songs have something to say, and if it takes assailing the ears with a madman one-two tempo march courtesy of a Casio keyboard, so be it.

Schwartz’s lyrical insights are just as captivating as the music, as witty and charming as a David Sedaris book, like this line from “Love’s Lost Guarantee:” “Love comes like a Kennedy curse / The victim role is well-rehearsed.” Descended Like Vultures (receiving its title from former poli-sci major Shwartz’ one-liner on politics) comes off part smart-ass and cheeky in a Flaming Lips way (“10:1”), but also heartfelt in a well-versed, Nick-Drake-on-uppers way (“California”), complete with heartstring tug, cello groan and soaring soprano violin.

Descended Like Vultures most certainly has a fuller sound than Out of the Shadow. It is the book to the short story Rogue Wave published two years ago, which was the prologue to a more footnoted, fulfilled manuscript.  VS

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