Rogue Wave, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate.

asleep at heavens gateSometimes I wonder, why the hell are you spending time writing a review of an album that came out in 2007? Anyone who’s interested has already heard it. Anyone who’s not interested isn’t interested, right? Well… No. I mean that’s how I listen to music. That’s how I share music. I could care less when it was released. I just want to hear something that makes me feel good.

Something that moves me. I still dig back into the sixties and seventies to find bands I’ve never heard for that very reason. It’s all about finding the right piece of music at the right time. With that in mind, let’s talk about Rouge Wave’s 2007 release, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate.

I’ve all but given up on commercial radio and listen only when I absolutely have to. But I couldn’t resist falling for the song Lake Michigan when it began showing up on WFNX last year spring. Then later in the year Emerson College’s WERS began playing Chicago X12 and Lullaby and I knew this was an album that I had to check out in more detail. I didn’t spend much time with the album for a couple months and had all but forgotten what had grabbed me the first times I heard these songs.

While getting ready for a road trip, I stumbled across it again and decided to drop it on my iPod. This gave me the chance to do some drive-time listening. I’ve been spending a lot of time driving back and forth to summer-league baseball games. On the occasions that I win the argument with the kids and don’t have to listen to KISS 108, I get to listen to my choice. I decided on Rogue Wave.

The album starts so strongly. Five songs in and there hasn’t been a dull moment. So often these days I hear albums pumped chock full of filler. It’s a pleasure to listen to one that is filled end to end with great songs. For me the only lull comes with track six, Christians in Black. And this is actually a great song too. My criticism is with the sequencing of the songs not with the song itself. It’s a great ballad that just comes in the wrong spot.

The uptempo songs have a retro-80s sounding angular guitar sound. The ballads have a wispy vocal style that reminds me of Death Cab for Cutie in some spots, and a less earnest sounding Snow Patrol in others. In their more down-tempo moments I hear one of my other recent faves, the Great Lake Swimmers. The acoustic numbers hint at the Shins.

One of the things I love most about these guys is their ability to layer in some really interesting additional instrumentation. Things that aren’t truly necessary to the songs, but add a little extra character to the songs. The albums starts with a great glitchy electro beat. Later there’s a little hand-clap sequence. And finally, my favorite added effect; I remember a toy that they had when I was a kid. I can’t remember what it was called but it looked like a vacuum cleaner hose. You swung the hose around your head and it made this weird whistling moaning sound. I was never really impressed with the toy because you couldn’t really do anything else with it, but the sound was always kind of neat.. Track seven, Ghost begins with what sounds like one of those vacuum hose whistles and it fades in and out throughout the song. It adds a beautiful, haunted quality to the song.

I’m unbelievably impressed with this album. I can’t wait to hear what these guys do next. I can’t wait until they go out on tour. Fortunately I they have a back catalog of a couple of albums that should keep me busy until their next release.

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~ by spinthis45 on August 3, 2009.

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