Emerson once wrote, "When it is darkest, men see the stars and he might as well have been penning a poem for Rogue Wave. Last year was a rollercoaster ride for the foursome drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, key... more »boardist Gram LeBron lost his father, singer Zach Rogue had a daughter and the band recruited a new bass player (Patrick Abernethy, formerly of Beulah). But instead of falling apart, they converted all their heartbreak, love, hurt, pain, elation and insight into a most affecting and beguiling record, Asleep At Heaven?s Gate. Produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney, Elvis Costello) with Zach Rogue and recorded in Forestville, California, Asleep At Heaven?s Gate was derailed two weeks into the sessions after technical problems mis-pitched a majority of the early tracks. Refusing to be defeated, the foursome decamped to their studio in Oakland, CA where they spent days salvaging what they could, rerecorded some tunes and laid down overdubs. The results are worth it, because Asleep At Heaven?s Gate finds the band at their most accomplished.« less
Emerson once wrote, "When it is darkest, men see the stars and he might as well have been penning a poem for Rogue Wave. Last year was a rollercoaster ride for the foursome drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, keyboardist Gram LeBron lost his father, singer Zach Rogue had a daughter and the band recruited a new bass player (Patrick Abernethy, formerly of Beulah). But instead of falling apart, they converted all their heartbreak, love, hurt, pain, elation and insight into a most affecting and beguiling record, Asleep At Heaven?s Gate. Produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney, Elvis Costello) with Zach Rogue and recorded in Forestville, California, Asleep At Heaven?s Gate was derailed two weeks into the sessions after technical problems mis-pitched a majority of the early tracks. Refusing to be defeated, the foursome decamped to their studio in Oakland, CA where they spent days salvaging what they could, rerecorded some tunes and laid down overdubs. The results are worth it, because Asleep At Heaven?s Gate finds the band at their most accomplished.
Rogue Wave's first flawed album still has it's moments.
Cale E. Reneau | Conroe, Texas United States | 09/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Rogue Wave released their second album (and first as a true band), "Descended Like Vultures" in late 2005 to little fanfare or notoriety. It was a bit disheartening to me, because I was a huge fan of it as well as their debut. To see such a great album go by without anyone really making a fuss about it was a shame. In an interview with the band that was published around the same time, Zach Rogue acknowledged that some fans thought they had sold out because the album was harder, louder. But Zach defended the band by saying that the music was them, and just because it sounded different did not make them guilty of selling out. He even tossed out the idea of the band making an electronic or hip hop album, because it would be "exciting" and "challenging." Perhaps that's why it's so disappointing to concede that "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" is middle of the road indie rock from start to finish. The album is not bad by any means, it just hasn't met my expectations.
To be honest, I never expected to hear a Rogue Wave hip hop album. What I did expect was for the band to take some risks as they had done with "Descended Like Vultures." That album clearly showed a growth in the band from Zach's "Out of the Shadow" days. Songs like "10:1" and "Love's Lost Guarantee" were so perfectly constructed and executed, that it was hard not to be impressed. Though still well-written and decently composed, "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" shows a band that's either having trouble moving forward, or just playing it safe.
That's not to say that the album isn't worth listening to, however. Zach Rogue is still an excellent song writer and the band still works well together. "Lake Michigan," for example, is classic Rogue Wave; plastered with layers of lush guitar sounds. Zach's smooth vocals move in and out of coherency as they always have, and it all sounds great! Likewise, "Lullaby" may start out sounding like a 1950s love song, but it soon evolves into perfect piece of indie rock with infectious electric guitars complementing the steady strumming of an acoustic. As much as I criticize the band for not taking as many risks this time out, I must admit that it's nice to hear the band make a few throwbacks to their old sound. "Christians in Black" is another great song, sounding like it could've been a hidden track on "Out of the Shadow." It's a must-listen for any long time fan.
The album's second half has a few notable tracks, and shows the band trying a few new things here and there. "Missed" walks a fine line between "beautiful" and "boring," ultimately achieving neither. It's minimalistic composition is squandered by all the reverb the band insisted on throwing in, and I would've much preferred the song without it. "Fantasies" starts off sounding way too much like The Shins' "New Slang" for me to take it too seriously. The melody lacks any staying power and the hook of "Every day's a fantasy. Are you with me? Are you with me?" is truly forgettable. To be fair, it's one of the few places on the album where the band sounds like they are trying to branch out, it just doesn't work out the way it should have. "Phonytown" ends up sounding much better, and the band finally shows a little bit of progression from their last album.
Rogue Wave is one of my favorite bands, and "Asleep at Heaven's Gate" was one of my most anticipated albums of 2007. Maybe that's why I'm so disappointed by what I've heard. The album seems incredibly front-heavy through track 6, and never really regains it's appeal until 11 or 12. For a band who has put out two relentlessly impressive albums, the fact that there are tracks here that I know I'll end up skipping in a few weeks is a bit saddening. If you're a long-time Rogue Wave fan, pick it up and decide for yourself. There are definitely enough good songs on this album to justify a purchase. If you're new to the band though, I highly recommend going back and checking out "Descended Like Vultures" or "Out of the Shadow" first. Rogue Wave was bound to slip up sooner or later. The fact that their "slip up" is still better than most run-of-the-mill indie rock bands out there today should tell you a lot about how great this band really is!
Key Tracks: 1. "Like I Needed" 2. "Chicago x 12" 3. "Lake Michigan" 4. "Lullaby" 5. "Christians in Black"
6 out of 10 Stars"
Give them a break, it's a good album!
Tristan Harward | Boston, MA United States | 11/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hate how people write off a band because they're different from their "indie roots" and "not as rough-around-the-edges as they used to be" -- yes, their old albums were great, and "Descended like Vultures" was a beautiful record, but this one stands on its own. Give it a chance and keep your thoughtless nostalgic expectations in check.
Because it actually is a great album, if you listen to it! It's got a different feel from their previous work, but for God's sake that's a good thing! It also *still* keeps Rogue Wave's signature sound with masterful turns of chords and play of major and minor key. *That* is what I love about this band - it's real skillful music when you listen closely.
There are some great tracks, Lake Michigan is probably my favorite (and no, not because of the Zune commercials), Chicago x 12 is great, Missed and Christians in Black throw back to their old material, Cheaper than Therapy is classic and a good finish with the sentiment that "Music is cheaper than therapy."
I just don't understand how one can look at the increased "production" and "complexity" of this album and frown upon it -- of all the bands who get that privilege, Rogue Wave handles it better than any I've heard. It comes together to form a cohesive album without a single bad track and with many that leave me wanting to hit the Repeat button.
It's not Descended Like Vultures, but if you expected that then it's you who's made the mistake, not Rogue Wave. Give them a break and listen to this album."
Another Excellent Rogue Wave Disc
S. Vahey | Northeast USA | 10/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So glad to have another excellent Rogue Wave CD in the collection. Following in the mold of Descended Like Vultures, this is once again an example of songwriting at its best. Favorite tracks are Harmonium, Lake Michigan, Own Your Own Home and Phoneytown. Highly recommended."
Beautiful, heartbreaking, the best rogue wave yet?
Judith C. Coleman | Iowa City, IA | 09/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a pretty big Rogue Wave fan from the beginning, but there's something about Out of the Shadow that just doesn't compare to Descended Like Vultures and this album, which is epically beautiful, lush, and heartbreaking. This album is a logical extension of Vultures, but I do think it takes its own set of risks and pushes the band forward musically. And while I like "Lake Michigan" as "classic" Rogue Wave, I have to say my favorite track from this album is the first song, "Harmonium", which is almost disconcerting at its outset and then beautifully affecting at its apex. It's a shame that Rogue Wave doesn't get more attention; they are an incredible band and this is an incredible album."
Apothecary Delaindrum (Best Rogue Wave album yet)
James D. Sigrist | Portland, Oregon | 02/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I heard "Chicago X 12" on an NPR music show and that was it. I stopped dead in my tracks and hit record on my cd recorder. "Who is this?" I wondered. Went out and bought the cd the next day. It's a great record. To my mind, this does not disappoint at all. I don't find a dull moment on this recording and I certainly do not think it is too long. It is recorded and produced excellently and sounds like a band that is on a creative roll and is really enjoying it. Yeah, I love it. I checked out their website and found a recording (video and audio) of an unplugged show they did for KCRW. They did a few songs from this album and some interesting covers. (the Split Enz song "I Got You" was amazing.) I think the last song was a Morrissey cover but I'm not sure. The style on the show was soft and acoustic and quite nice. (I wish they would release an album of stuff like this) Zach has a fine voice and the rest of the guys in the band seem very happy to be there. It's a great combination and hopefully there will be more coming from these fellows. I liked this album much better than the first two. It is also a delectable album with headphones. Lots of detail and nuance that really comes through with phones."