Sound — 8
Neo-folk rockers Rogue Wave have returned with their third studio album Asleep At Heaven's Gate, produced by Roger Mountenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney, Elvis Costello) and released on Brushfire Records. Guest vocalists Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), John Vanderslice, Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink), and Dominc East (Our Lady Of The Highway) sing harmony on various tracks and keyboardist Bill Cameron of The Winechuggers plays on the tune Ghosts. There is an adult contemporary menagerie submerged in retro rock intonations on tracks like Lullaby and Like I Needed which produce Jeff Buckley-verve curves. The rapidly spun vocals of lead singer Zach Rogue on Lake Michigan converge with the soft pop psychedelics of keyboardist Gram LeBron, bassist Patrick Abernerthy and drummer Pat Spurgeon donning a gentle fluidity liken to Okkervil River. The band has a predilection for soft rock refinery shown on numbers like Chicago x 12 and Harmonium. Their folksy rock hues on Ghosts and Own Your Own Home have a pleasant rocking back and forth motion, and the glistening soft pop packaging of Christians In Black and Missed have picturesque textures and flutes of sonic imagery. The electro-pop tints of Phonytown are countered by the country folk shaded acoustics of Fantasies and the soft flowy piping of Cheaper Than Therapy.
Lyrics — 6
The lyrics are observations about life and romances like the track Chicago x 12 when Rogue sings, Gone are the good old days/Of painting young Courtney Pine/Listened to the taunts and the shouts/Of celebration wine/I never could make it work out right/Her milk glows in the blacklight/ But it don't matter/Because no one comes out to see us. The words are obscure and have a private meaning which the music creates a reminiscing mood around.
Overall Impression — 8
Rogue Wave's album is attractive for adult contemporary, alt-pop, and MOR (middle of the road) audiences. Several songs from their previous album, Descended Like Vultures were placed in TV shows like Weeds, Heroes, and Friday Night Lights, and their single Sightliness was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack. The band hasn't changed since then and continues their formula of soft pop melodic spreads. Their folk-rock coda has a kindred spirit to Cat Power and their soft-pop harmonies are reflective of Colbie Caillat. Their music bottles that dorm-room bliss where the simplicity of life can be savored and reminisced with fondness.