December 08, 2005

Rogue Wave "Descended Like Vultures"

What a difference a few years can make! Even though Sub Pop released Rogue Wave's debut album Out of the Shadows last year, it was actually released in 2002. This delay in releasing new studio material might be frustrating for some, but I'm willing to argue that this passing of time only helped Rogue Wave. Since releasing his debut album, main Rogue Zach Rogue has formed a full backing band, and they have toured the country several times. Naturally, the band's dynamic has changed--and for the better.

If Out of the Shadows is the lovely monochromatic sound of one man clapping, Descended Like Vultures is a full-blown technicolor feature. The debut--which was essentially a solo project--sounded nice, but it suffered from the same drawbacks found in other one-man band projects; the "band" is only as good as the musician behind the instruments, and it's very rare for one man to capture the same spontanaety of a full band accompaniment. While the debut charmed its listeners, it sounded charmingly awkward; one had the feeling that Rogue had the capacity for greatness, and one certainly hoped Rogue Wave's follow up would be a little bit better.

After one listen to Descended Like Vultures, it's clear that such concern was for naught. Rogue can compose a very catchy tune; "Publish My Love" and "Catform" are two songs that will not leave your head for days. Though he has the ability to make pretty groovin' rock and roll, most of the the album is mellowed-out sunshine rock that drifts in and out of your ears like a warm summer's breeze. The strumming guitars on "Salesman at the Day of the Parade" and the light electric guitars on "You" warm the heart and take the listener to a nice, calm place--one where the sun shines all day and the stars shine all night. True, times can be bittersweet (as you'll hear on "California," "Love's Lost Guarantee," and "Temporary"), but when there's love to be in, why not be in love? But don't think that because the band's music is soft and pretty, that they're incapable of making some great rockers; when the band wants to deliver its power, as heard on "10:1" and "Publish My Love," there's no stopping their full-force attack.

It's great to hear that Rogue and company have bonded so tightly, because Descended Like Vultures is, hands down, a great record. It's simple in its execution, but simplicity is often a sign of brilliance. May it not take Rogue and his rogues two and a half years to record and relase a follow-up!

--Joseph Kyle

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