Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures

This is an album that I truly love – one of my favorites for 2005. It’s a journey from acoustic folk-pop to jangly hipster rock to smooth alt pop bliss. Rogue Wave has grown from what was essentially the solo project of Zach Rogue (nee Schwartz) to a true band of talented multi-instrumentalists, each exhibiting their own influence on the collective sound.

Though singer/ guitarist Rogue initially assembled the group – Pat Spurgeon on drums, Gram LeBron on guitar and Evan Farrell on bass - in 2002, Descended Like Vultures marks the first time that the entire group has recorded together in studio. Though not a complete departure from the group’s debut, Out of the Shadow, DLV ventures into new territory previously unexplored by Rogue-Wave-as-a-solo-effort. While Out of the Shadow can be admired for the beauty and warmth in its simple yet endearing songs, Descended Like Vultures reaches into deeper, darker, more emotive, and certainly more complex territory. Where Out of the Shadow pats you on the head and gives you a lollipop, DLV gives you a bear hug, a slow dance, and occasionally, a punch in the stomach. (And I mean that in a good way.)

One of the standout tracks on the album is the achingly sweet, simple acoustic number, “Temporary.” Rogue sings wistfully in a gentle, mumbled tenor, comparing the brevity of human life to that of the shortt-lived spotlight given to a toy or picture book. If the guitar solo in this song – and its abrupt end – doesn’t give you goose-bumps, you’re just not human.

“10:1,” which was featured on an EP of the same name released earlier this year, is perhaps the most dramatic departure from Out of the Shadow (and frankly, is different from every other tune on DLV) with its upbeat, jangley synth melody and fuzzy, frenetic vocals. It sounds a bit like Rogue Wave decided to try their hand at dance rock while listening to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. They are surprisingly successful in the endeavor, crafting something that can only be described as an upbeat amalgam of Wayne Coyne meets ELO in a Moog bar circa 2020.

“Are You on My Side” further establishes that Rogue Wave are not your typical verse-chorus-verse rock band. It begins with a slighty cold, sparse blend of finger-picking, oo-choruses, light percussion and speak-singing, and gradually moves into the realm of echoing, ethereal alt-pop. As the song builds, it becomes warmer and brighter featuring the occasional endearing “doodle-doo” from Rogue (it works), and ends with yet another gorgeous guitar solo that invokes images of children spinning in circles in floral fields.

“Love’s Lost Guarantee” is another good example of Rogue Wave’s inclination to wander curiously from a song’s original frame-work, but with once more pleasing results. What starts as a simple pop rock number moves briefly into arena rock territory, complete with power chords and an accompanying rallying cry: “Yeah-di-dadada!” Before things get too 80’s glam metal, however, Rogue steers the melody back into indie pop waters and a second softer, subtler “yeah yeah yaya” chorus. It’s Arcade Fire meets My Morning Jacket with a sudden burst of Guns n Roses.

Zach Rogue has described the album as his first “proper” LP. “I feel like Descended Like Vultures is actually the beginning — this is really where we start.” Incredibly ambitious, surprising, touching, and amusing all at the same time… this is an album that I ORDER you to buy come October 25th.

--Courtney Wachs

Release Date: October 25, 2005

Rogue Wave Website


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