Friday, June 7, 2013

Rogue Wave Lays Nightingale Floors

Rogue Wave
The Oakland, California, indie rock band headed by Zach Rogue (a.k.a. Zach Schwartz), Rogue Wave, has just put out its most underrated album. While some will still lament the band's departure from the low-key lo-fi that once characterized it or the changes heaped upon the band with ample pain, Nightingale Floors is a triumph as Rogue and company come to terms with everything they've gone through.

Written and recorded in the wake of his father's death, Rogue has composed a riveting full length with a full 14 tracks included on the deluxe edition. Parting with his father isn't the only the bit of anguish that he attempts to distinguish. Life, death, love, loss, and individual mortality move the album.

Nightingale Floors lays down a few tracks about life and death, most with a peaceful resolution. 

Perhaps what catches people completely off guard is that Rogue delivers much of it with what some might mistake as stoicism. Instead, listen a little closer, and Rogue seems have found peaceful acceptance in all the hardships he and his band have had to endure. He is at peace, come what may.

He's not alone either. The lineup for Nightingale Floors include a full dance card. Along with the cranky but apologetic Rogue is Pat Spurgeon (drums), Dan Iead (guitar), Masanori Christianson (bass), and Rob Easson (synth, guitar). Newcomers Easson and Iead fit right in with original members Rogue and Spurgeon. (Christianson has been on and off, lately on, with the band before).

The two most visible songs since the release include College and Siren's Song. College is one of the few songs with pop energy behind it. The lyrics hint at another story, however, comparing and contrasting knowledge and wisdom. Siren's Song is a perfect example of how the layered compositions make Rogue Wave impossibly addictive.

Interestingly enough, Rogue is always quick to point out in interviews that he has been doing pretty good for the last couple of years. The only pain left in his life is related to his slipped discs. That ailment is forever, but he has no intention of slowing things down.

The only thing he didn't know, in fact, is whether he and Spurgeon would click after all this time apart. That doubt lasted for about two minutes. It immediately felt right, like the break had never happened.

Although No Magnatone opens the album like a prologue, it actually plays better if you listen to it as an epilogue. There isn't much to it compared to College, Siren's Song, or even the Rogue Wave lite track Figured It Out. The Closer I Get would have played better in third position. It's throwback tender.

Rogue Wave
Other tracks worth a listen are my personal favorite, Everyone Want To Be You, a long eight-plus minute opus that has a big ambiance and an even bigger presence by Rogue. It closes out the album perfectly, except that it actually serves as a segue for four bonus tracks that change the dynamic.

Nearly Lost You, Body Breaks, Operated, and When You Walk Away collectively make what might have been a good album great. The irony is that after several dozen reviewers dismissed the album as forgettable, the bonus four make it unforgettable in that the band proves a needed depth and diversity.

That's not to say other tracks ought to be ignored. The largely overlooked Used To It and the sparsely acoustic Without Pain are both listenable. But in looking at the two wholes, the 10-track release does feel hit and miss with the addition of four more bonus track cousins.

Nightingale Floors By Rogue Wave Leaves A 5.8 Wake On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

It might be important to note that the rating is attached to Nightingale Floors (deluxe version) as opposed to the original release, which delivered equal parts hits and almost misses. The additional four tracks make up the some of the best alongside College, Siren's Song and Everyone Wants To Be You. Some of the other tracks play okay too, but not to the caliber of the balance.

Nightingale Floors (deluxe version) by Rogue Wave is up on Amazon. You can also download the deluxe version from iTunes. Barnes & Noble carries the original CD release. The band is currently working its way east before heading west via the Midwest again. Tour schedules are posted on Facebook.
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