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Rogue Wave formed in 2002 when a newly-unemployed Zach Rogue left his San Francisco home, visited friends in New York City, and returned to California with nearly a full album's worth of textured, cerebral indie pop. Rogue then quit his post in his previous group, the Desoto Reds, and finished the album, which was released on Rogue's own Responsive label under the title Out of the Shadow. As he was completing the record, Rogue decided to form a band in order to perform the material live, and he soon hooked up with drummer/keyboardist Pat Spurgeon, bassist Sonya Westcott, and guitarist Gram LeBron. This outfit played shows in 2003 with the likes of Spoon, Mates of State, and other indie rock big shots. Impressed with their growing buzz, Sub Pop signed Rogue Wave and reissued Out of the Shadow in 2004.

At some point, Westcott was replaced in the lineup by Evan Farrell, and the revised band began recording a second album. The first result of their efforts was the 10:1 single, released in August 2005, which displayed a slicker and more produced sound without jeopardizing the elements that made the first record an artistic success. The full-length Descended Like Vultures followed in late 2005. Songs from the album appeared on television shows like Weeds, Friday Night Lights, and Heroes, and the band maintained a hectic touring schedule until 2006, when they were forced to take time off as drummer Pat Spurgeon underwent a kidney transplant and other bandmembers dealt with death (LeBron's father) and birth (Rogue's new daughter). The group also lost bassist Farrell, who left the lineup before perishing in an apartment fire in late 2007. Patrick Abernathy, formerly with Beulah, joined the group in his place. As if that wasn't enough tribulation, Rogue Wave couldn't come to terms with Sub Pop for future albums and was dropped from the label's roster. They found a suitable label soon after, however, as their friend Jack Johnson signed them to his Brushfire imprint and released their third album, Asleep at Heaven's Gate, in autumn 2007. With newcomer Cameron Jasper now handling bass duties, the band returned in early 2010 with their second Brushfire recording, Permalight.

album review

Zach Rogue spent much of the time before the recording of Rogue Wave's fourth album, Permalight, confined to bed rest as a slipped disc or two in his neck healed and he gained back the use of his arm. An experience like that could send a songwriter in one of two directions; writing bleak, life-is-hell songs, or fighting back with upbeat, sunny songs, celebrating triumph over adversity. Rogue mostly chose option number two here. The album is filled with sparkling, uptempo tracks that are cheerful, danceable, and full of joy. They are decorated gaily with bubbling synths, handclaps, slick harmony vocals, and all kinds of cute production tricks that help turn songs like "Stars and Stripes," "Good Morning," and "You Have Boarded" into bright power poppers with plenty of pop. There are big hooks in these songs, plenty of singalong choruses, and a feeling of joy behind the singing and playing. Itís a huge change from the bland and over-cooked sound the band fell into on their previous record. On Asleep at Heavenís Gate there seemed to be a real danger that they were headed into adult contemporary territory with no return trip booked. Only a couple songs on Permalight venture into this realm, mostly the ballads, though this time the songs are saved by the production tricks and Rogue's vocals. He, too, was headed in a bad direction on the last album, turning from a heartfelt, small-emotions guy into an arena-sized howler who sacrificed heart for show. Luckily, heís dialed way back on the affectations and brings some real emotion to the slow songs, and a fun-filled, breezy approach to the uptempo tracks. The production, songs, and vocals are all perfectly in tune with each other, and the band has crafted a pretty impressive return to form. Permalight is still a far way from the bedroom origins of the group, but itís also far from being a Coldplay knock-off, and anyone whoís been a fan from the start can certainly appreciate that. Tim Sendra

Track Listing

1. "Solitary Gun" 3:44
2. "Good Morning (The Future)" 4:10
3. "Sleepwalker" 3:46
4. "Stars and Stripes" 3:09
5. "Permalight" 3:07
6. "Fear Itself" 4:36
7. "Right With You" 3:16
8. "We Will Make A Song Destroy" 3:55
9. "I'll Never Leave You" 3:00
10. "Per Anger" 2:37
11. "You Have Boarded" 3:57
12. "All That Remains" 1:05