Rogue Wave – Permalight

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Let’s face it, Zach Rogue hasn’t had it easy.  He was forced into rock n’ roll because of the dot-com bust, and his band lost a former member/friend in a fire, not to mention his own health issues. Through it all, Zach has tried to put a light on his life with Rogue Wave.  Now comes the release of their fourth album, Permalight.

“Solitary Gun” begins the album on the right foot.  It features Zach’s cool California vocals with a twangy guitar.  Percussion here correlates to the song itself, brightening the aesthetic quality of the tune, despite the underlying dark theme. But, this is about as good as it will get.

“Good Morning” has Zach channeling a bit of Passion Pit as he uses synthesized beats to build the hook within the song.  Somehow, the chorus sounds a lot like Postal Service (or Owl City if you like).  It comes across really generic and uninspired, especially the bouncing beat that goes with the chorus.   Such a song is shocking considering the depth in all the songs on Asleep at Heaven’s Gate.  All that depth has clearly gone out the window; disappointing.

A lot of Permalight seems really mundane, if not a bit forced.  “Stars and Stripes” features more of that out of place electronic palette. But, what hits you the most is the redundancy of the lyrics; you here the words stars and stripes too much to recollect any of the other banal details in the song.  Similar issues plague the lyrics on “Fear Itself;” you can only repeat lyrics so many times before they lose all importance.

Don’t forget, however, that Rogue Wave has always been capable of crafting really good pop moments.  “Right With You” seems like something Nada Surf would have done long ago, or maybe Ok Go.  “I’ll Never Leave You” is also standing near the end of the album, but it’s one of the few tunes that really tugs at your heart.  It’s a mostly acoustic number with some sort of shaker echoing in the background while Zach’s vocals carry the whole of the song. Much can be said, too, of “All That Remains.”  It ends the album on a high note, at least as far as quality goes.

Looking back on Permalight as a whole, you can’t help but feel really let down.  There are some moments here, like “I’ll Never Leave You” that show the abilities of Zach and his band, but you get the feeling throughout that the album is somehow left unfinished.  It’s as if the label needed something, and this was all there was, which perhaps explains the foray into electronic backing during certain moments.  Despite a few enjoyable moments, the album struggles to rise high like the previous Rogue Wave records.

2/24 Akron/Family @ The Parish

Admittedly, walking into the newly refurbished Parish Wednesday night, I was a bit unaware of the events set to unfold. Through the front doors, we entered into a strange, Gothic bizzaro world where the old funky Parish, as I knew it, used to be.  It was my first visit there since the facility’s upgrade. Similarly, I was only a casual follower of the headliners Akron/Family with only their latest Set ‘Em Wild Set ‘Em Free in my playlist repetition pre-concert. The opening act L.A.’s Warpaint, was seen as a bonus due to the overwhelming buzz I was hearing throughout the blogoverse.  Follow the jump to see what happened.

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FT5: SXSW Bands I Have To See

What’s that ya say?  SXSW is almost upon us?  Get the F*** out!  With our fancy little music festival we call SXSW coming up in March, I wanted to take a quick look at some of the bands I just gotta see during the upcoming week.  Now obviously I had to stick to a few strict rules here.  For starters, the band has to be one I haven’t seen before.  Two, it has to actually be possible to see the band (sorry STP & Band of Horses).  Three, the band needs to be fairly new with high praises coming from us and others.  I’d say that about does it.  These are bands on the verge of breaking it big in the national scene.  Will they have what it takes to impress me and the snobby Austin music scene with their live shows?  Only time will tell…  Follow the jump for my full list of bands I’ll be waiting in line to see during SXSW.
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Givers @ Emo’s (2/26)

Date 2/26/10
Location Emos
Doors 9pm
Tickets $8 @ Ticketweb

Lafayette, LA finest Givers are making their way to Emo’s Austin on Friday night.  The up and coming pop hit makers will be joined on the stage by Caddywhompus and local rockers Whitman.  This is definitely worth the cheap ticket price.


Download: Givers – Up, Up, Up [MP3]

Appleseed Cast @ Mohawk (2/27)

Date 2/27/10
Location Mohawk
Doors 900p
Tickets $10 @ Frontgate

Saturday night at Mohawk is the place to be with a very special set by post-emo Lawrence, KA band Appleseed Cast.  The show is a unique one because the guys will be performing their 2001 masterpiece of a double album Low Level Owl Volume 1 & 2.  Opening support for this one is provided by Dremend.  Also stick around after things wrap up inside for sets by buzzing locals The Clouds Are Ghosts and This Old House.


Download: Appleseed Cast – Steps And Numbers [MP3]

Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

Rating: ★★★★☆

Two years ago Jonathan Meiburg released Rook under his project, Shearwater; it was an operatic endeavor, which came across forceful in moments, while resting quietly in others.  His band returns with The Golden Archipelago, along with an abbreviated dossier, unless you opt to shell out the bucks for the completed dossier.  An album such as this is not something to take lightly; it’s full of depth and precision, all of which successfully push the listener into the realm of masterpiece as created by Meiburg and associates.

“Meridian” is a tricky album opener, especially for those mindful of the band’s past releases, Rook in particular.  Slowly the song builds upon the quietest strum of guitar matched perfectly with Jonathan’s falsetto.  The tone is somewhat ominous, especially with echoing vocals in the background and the orchestral touches.  You expect a crash of some sort, similar to that exhibited on the first track of Rook, but instead, the song sort of fizzles to an end suddenly.  It pushes you into “Black Eyes,” which is perhaps the loudest of the tracks on this collection.

Once you arrive at “Landscape at Speed” you begin to arrive at core of the album.  Consistent rim shots provide a hollow percussive element to barely audible strumming.  Instead of focusing this number on the guitar work, Shearwater fills out the space with various snippets of noise.  It’s the sort of restraint demonstrated in the work of fellow Austinites, Spoon; these sorts of approaches tend to keep listeners in a holding pattern of sorts, asking you to indulge yourself in the cinematic quality of the record.

However, songs like “God Made Me” are precisely what make everything Meiburg does relevant to the broader spectrum of music listeners.  His strong vocal performance in front of string instruments begs you to hold onto every emotion within, only to release it during the semi-chorus that leaves his vocals feeling somewhat scratchy like his one-time bandmate from Okkervil River, Will Sheff.  The barrage of banging pianos only heightens such a release, yet he manages to let you rest quietly as the song fades into thin air. Finally, he seems to have taken his songwriting as seriously as he’s taken the orchestration of his previous albums.

Those looking for an album constructed of singles and hits might not find such numbers here, at least not apparent to the naked ear, so to speak. “Castaways” has a pounding drum beat that illustrates that Shearwater is more than just a project of Meiburg.  But, his vocals cresting and crashing warrant the song one of the most accessible on the album, though time spent with The Golden Archipelago finds all these songs as such.

Perhaps the best summation of this album is the second to last song, “Uniforms,” existing in a dense world brought on relative noise before kicking in with powerful vocals.  Just as the vocals signal for bombast, they’re immediately pulled back in favor of a more gentle confrontation with the listener.  At  2.5 minutes into the song, you’re greeted with the complete ensemble of the band smashing everything into a raucous moment, all before the song peters out.  With that, you find yourself at the end of an album that seems to revel in the contrasting experiences of quite and loud; it’s a trick used by many in the past, yet never done in such an operatic manner as we find here on The Golden Archipelago.


Download: Shearwater – Castaways [MP3]

SXSW Watchlist: Matt Pond PA

mattpondpaMatt Pond PA is a band that we’ve been following for years now so they were an easy choice for us to spotlight on our SXSW watchlist.  Matt Pond PA have been around for a loooooong time and they seem to be that band always coming in just a bit under the radar.  You won’t hear these guys on the radio nor will you read much about them on P4K or The Gum.  Regardless, we’ve always found the songs of Matt Pond PA a soothing mixture of slow pop jams that best fit in with a good cup of coffee during your Sunday morning hangover time.  Their 2004 release Emblems has also got to be one of my favorite “indie” albums of all time.  Continue after the jump to read our short interview with leading man Matt Pond.

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Lonely Galaxy

We’ve recently taken a liking to this new UK band Lonely Galaxy who have gotten some decent exposure on sites like Fader and Pinglewood. The project was created and recorded completely by 21 year old London resident Harry Granger-Howell.  The young chap says he plans to release his debut EP of songs recorded in his bedroom via the Transparent blog sometime in March.  Below you’ll find the song “Time” which has some incredible emotion behind it despite its simplistic approach to song writing. If you like what you hear, check out the Lonely Galaxy myspace for more songs or follow their twitter page for updates.


Download: Lonely Galaxy – Time [MP3]

Tegan @ Sara @ Bass (2/26)

Date 2/26/20
Location Bass Concert Hall
Doors 8pm
Tickets $23 – $35 from UT

Friday is a day in Austin we’ve been looking forward to for quite some time as Tegan & Sara make their much anticipated stop at Bass Concert Hall.  The Canadian duo will be joined on the stage by Steel Train and Holy Miranda.  Surprisingly, tickets for this one can still be purchased from the UT performing arts center.  Don’t miss out!


Download: Tegan & Sara – The Ocean [MP3]

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