Out of the Shadow CD, Original recording remastered, Import
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This quartet effuses vitality, all the while infusing their damaged melodies with casual charm. "Rogue Wave seems like a classic Bay Area band, in the tradition of Thinking Fellers and Barbara Manning--they've just got that vibe"--Carl Newman, The New Pornographers. This debut was originally released in a limited quantity on the band's own label in 2003, and has been re-mastered for this re-release.
Zach Rogue has mastered such surface-only understated simplicity. With a voice and songwriting skills from another decade, he has harnessed the power of folk and placed it alongside hipster indie sensibilities to create some of the sweetest melodies since Simon and Garfunkel sang about the "Sound of Silence." Indeed, Rogue's own "Falcon Settles Me" is uncannily indebted to the duo. "You are the seed and I am the planter" he whispers over a tepid acoustic path, a fitting analogy for a record that tends to grow on you like a flower, working its way up through the system until blooming through the senses.
It's the strength of the opening four songs, however, that will immediately bring the listener back. Like a small puzzle, when played together their interconnectedness adds up to more than the sum of their individual parts.
On "Postage Stamp World," Rogue lambastes modern romanticism. "There she was/ a silky starlet/ pressed up to the screen/ captivated by social retards...her heart will feel no pain." He finds trouble with himself and the men around him on "Man-Revolutionary!" first deciding that "It's completely normal/ well I guess.../ I wanna be on the right end," and then concluding "It's completely morbid/ I'm aghast/ I wanna be on the right end."
Touring with The Shins this summer only worked to connect Rogue Wave to the type of audience that would have taken to them anyways, quickening their rise to a solid platform of respect and admiration among the in crowd. So they reworked the album cover art from the tour album to something more artsy and colorful (not at all unlike The Shins art for "Chutes Too Narrow") and set a "release date" for late summer, allowing their mystique to grow amid toiling word-of-mouth rumors and internet fanaticism. It's hard to understand, then, how such a smart and self-aware group missed perfection by including a clunky, lazy, boring song called "Perfect" to close the album. Or did they? Maybe the refrain-"everything was perfect till you came around"- repeated over and over in the song was one of those ironically self-imposing efforts at weakness through forced self-deprecation and humiliation. Oh, they're just so clever.
Very good record although it misses the sort of consistency in character (the overall mood) of the Shins debut record.
Out of the Shadow is very varied, but I don't think of it as a shortcoming.
It are catchy 60's songs, most of them very Beatles, some Simon & Garfunkel, not knowing where to compare it with really, but I certainly do not hear that much familiarity with The New Pornographers and Eliot Smith.
The vocals, however, sound at times almost identical to John Lennon's ("Kicking the Heart out" for instance), so a Beatles reference isn't that stupid after all.
It isn't a lo-fi album and therefore it will not appeal to alternative music lovers who judge music by the sound rather than the music itself: if it sounds too good then it isn't indie enough. (I'm serious, there are many people who listen to music like that - the opposite of people who are insulted by bad sounding records)
I like the sound a lot, it isn't too polished or over-produced as many mega acts, but far better sounding than the average lo-fi artist.
Some personal favorites: "Be Kind + Rewind", "Sewn Up" and "Kicking the Heart Out"
One of the best albums in recent years, a must-have for Shins lovers.