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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 113 - 12/15/05

Rogue Wave
Descend Like Vultures
Sub Pop

rogue wave n. An unpredictable, abnormally large wave that occurs on a seemingly random basis in the oceans.

Descend Like Vultures hit me like a wave. Not a huge and dangerous one, but a pleasantly big and perfectly tempered one. Zach Rogue and company have given us one of the indie-pop albums of the year, following the steps of, say, Death Cab For Cutie (maybe with a little less pathos) and stable-mates the Shins (with slightly darker vocals), and the late Elliott Smith. Sore, sad eyed, emotional pop music with a twist, turning it accurately away from the masses.

They have also been compared to the New Zealand indie-rock scene from back in the 80s (the Great Unwashed or Tall Dwarfs have been name-dropped), which isn't bad as a quality stamp of approval. Well, I don't fully agree on the Tall Dwarfs comparison. The dwarves are much more 'wild', anarchist type of pop music. Maybe Rogue Wave's first album is more in that vein.

"Bird On A Wire" opens the album, setting the standard with an airy, wavy mild rock expression. The lovely "Publish My Love" follows, dragging you into pleasantly romantic moods. With a sweet touch of necessary melancholy. However, they don't fail, sinking too deep into pop tristesse. Instead the manage to keep up a bouncy, playful attitude. "Love's Lost Guarantee" swings into more noisier parts, tickling those of us who enjoy the mixture of rough and calm.

The brilliant single "10:1" is smashing. A furry rubber ball turned inside out. 3 minutes 20 seconds efficiently swaggering pop. "California", "Medicine Ball", and "Temporary" are quieter moments, of an acoustic nature. Descend Like Vultures is a tasty dish instrumentation-wise. Guitars (electric and acoustic), pianos and organs (Hammond, pump, Wurlitzer), xylophone, accordion, trumpet. Some very nice 40 minutes. The record sounds much shorter than that. Well, only thing to do about it is to flip it on from start again. And again.

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