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Record Review: Rogue Wave

This story was published November 10, 2005 in The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper.

Yesterday I was having a heated discussion with my illustrious editor, also known as Captain McEvoy, and suddenly I realized some things. The first is that I am not trendy, not even in the indie rock sense of not being trendy. The second is that I don’t really care.

It all began with some little white earbuds. In recent weeks, many of my friends have purchased iPods. As I almost fell over after heaving my fat, studio headphones onto my head, Captain McEvoy casually mentioned the fact that I was probably the last person on earth not to own an iPod. [Captain Gisch’s note: I don’t own an iPod either.] All this was said in the gentle tones you’re meant to use when talking to a tantrum-prone three-year-old. Now, I don’t know whether it was the suggested similarities between me and a disobedient child or the iPod jibe, but it started me thinking.

Rogue Wave is a band that is decidedly indie. You can easily make comparisons between them and Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists and Elliott Smith. But they, like me, aren’t quite trendy enough for even the non-trendy. (I’ll bet that they use chunky headphones, too.)

Their newest release, Descended Like Vultures, is the quintessential indie CD. There’s a taste of blaring distortion, the soft waft of airy ambient noises and smart lyrics. Rogue Wave is on Sub Pop Records, where indie rock denizens congregate. Not to beat a dead, name-dropping horse, but Sub Pop is home to bands like The Shins, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Postal Service, Hot Hot Heat and Nirvana.

Still, to my knowledge, Rogue Wave hasn’t achieved the same success as other notable bands in their genre (although there can only be one indie band made famous by the Garden State soundtrack, right?).

It beats me why most people haven’t heard of Rogue Wave. Their songs provide perfect-for-the-facebook-profile-or-AIM-away-message lyrics. In fact, they’re great for any occasion. To the newly-dumped best friend, say “Love comes like a Kennedy curse.” For the friend who always bails on your road trip plans, say “Screw California/And friends that are never there.” Lastly, the perfect tidbit for the time you got lost and didn’t ask for directions: “I’m so sorry for what I’ve done/I went into it like a man.”

You might be wondering where the track-by-track, in-depth criticism is and why the hell there are so many dashes around. The answer is there’s too much good stuff for me to talk about, and it’s because I like them. Just pretend the page has freckles.

If you’re one of the earbud people and buy your music song-by-song, I would recommend “Medicine Ball,” a pounding, driving track, “Salesman at the Day of the Parade,” your typical acoustic anthem, “Temporary,” which could pass for a Simon and Garfunkel b-side and “Catform,” an electronically-minded melodic piece of genius. After spending some time with “Catform,” I got to the point where my fingers were actually tired from tapping. I am not lying. That would be an honor code violation.

Rogue Wave has an epic-ness to their albums. Even though little seventh-grade hipsters may not have heard of them, there is a timeless quality to their music that transcends everything else. Descended Like Vultures is lush, woozy, pensive, slick. It teases. It winks. It giggles.

I can only hope that someday Rogue Wave gets the fame and trendy status they deserve. Until then, you can bet that I’ll still be listening — with some oversized headphones.

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