Jul 03, 2013 Web Exclusive
Rogue Wave has had a very "indie" career—from the band's jangly, sensitive aesthetic and critical acclaim to its prevalence on television and film soundtracks and, unfortunately, relative anonymity to mainstream listeners. In other words, for a band of its caliber and songwriting prowess, its career arc has probably felt lackluster both to its members and their fans.
That, however, has not stopped the Oakland, Calif. quintet from amassing an impressive catalog of subtly sweet guitar pop, capped off most recently by Nightingale Floors, an impressive collection of somber yet optimistic songs about taking things as they come and accepting where you are. Singer and driving creative force Zach Rogue (aka Zach Schwartz) sounds peaceful and confident when he sings, "The gravity of career ambition never meant that much to me," on the mid-tempo acoustic strummer "Figured It Out." The song, and the record as a whole, finds Rogue dealing with the loss of his father, the fleeting nature of life, and being grateful for what you've got. His band isn't as big as he may have wanted—so what? He gets to make music for a living, and things are pretty good.
Surrounding that song, which serves as the record's general thesis, Rogue and company explore pretty well trodden indie pop territory with nearly always-enjoyable results. "College" layers a twinkling guitar hook over fuzzed-out power chords, à la contemporaries Nada Surf. The sweeping opener "No Magnatone" employs a similar technique, with Rogue's heavily effected vocals contributing to the grander production value. Tracks such as these, along with the pulsating "Siren's Song" and dynamic space-pop of "Used to It," are right in Rogue Wave's wheelhouse as a rock band for the sensitive guy. While the lumbering closer "Everyone Wants to Be You" pulls on heartstrings but misses on impact, the up-tempo cuts allow you to pump your first after a quick stop on the way up to dry your eye.
It is unlikely that Nightingale will catapult the band into any kind of whirlwind success—there just isn't much demand for thoughtful guitar pop these days, and this isn't groundbreaking material—but it does showcase a band that has stuck to its guns, honed its craft, and created something pleasing to show for it. Could be a lot worse. (www.roguewavemusic.com)
Author rating: 6.5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10