Rogue Wave

    Descended Like Vultures


    The temptation is to start
    name-dropping. We could start talking about how Zach Rogue’s vocals split the
    difference between Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum and the Shins’ James
    Mercer, how the guitars twinkle and spark like Radiohead’s glory days, how
    Rogue’s tunes have the plasticine sheen of Death Cab for Cutie and the same
    weepy sincerity, and how naming your band after your last name is kinda lame.
    But I’ve heard that would be lazy journalism – and, whatever, these guys
    deserve a bit more from us anyway.


    The band’s second full-length
    from Sup Pop, Descended Like Vultures,
    follows an impressive debut – and success story. In short, Rogue gets dismissed
    from his dot-com job (poor guy), splits for New York, records an album alone,
    flies home to Oakland, changes his last name, finds a band and some friends,
    finishes the album, releases it alone, and gets picked up by a big independent
    label – all within a few years. If Out of
    the Shadow
    , his debut, is the
    result of years spent staring at cubicle walls, we have some reason to
    celebrate the dot-com flame-out.

    But whereas Rogue began his
    corporate exodus alone, Descended Like
    finds him and his able compatriots integrated and working as a
    band. Despite their twists and turns (sonic and otherwise), the songs here are
    fully accomplished – unafraid of comparisons and sure of their intent. “Publish
    My Love,” possibly the best of the bunch, explodes in a mess of shoegaze before
    settling into a choruses that stand upright to love’s low-pressure winds;
    “10:1” pummels a two-note Hammond B3 melody to danceable oblivion. Even when
    things hush up, Rogue Wave keeps things interesting. “California” has Rogue’s
    elegant tenor laughing at the land of milk and honey as he sings “screw
    California and the friends that are never there” over warm acoustic

    The sanitized production can be
    a bit of a stumbling block, and Rogue occasionally gets ahead of himself with
    his high-spire vocals, but Descended Like
    is by and large not the sophomore slump such and such and so and
    so were expecting. With few exceptions, bands that play like bands are more
    interesting than songwriters fronting freelancers. Thankfully, Rogue Wave is
    beginning to sound like the former.

    Rogue Wave on

    Rogue Wave
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