Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Snarky Kid...

said really evil things about a video review I posted on youtube.

I just wanted to see who it was, and what they were up to on youtube, so maybe I could justify my dislike. Yet, when I clicked on their youtube channel, I saw the most recently "favorited" video. I clicked play; it looked mysterious.

I fell in love immediately. Why, this Memoryhouse (from Ontario) went right ahead and sampled Jon Brion's "Phone Call." It's one of the most beautiful songs off the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack. Not only is that one of my favorite movies of ever, but it has one of my favorite soundtracks (thank you God Brion).

So Memoryhouse comes along and drags the Jon Brion sample so slowly, making it into a putty of sorts, bending and stretching, and expanding its gorgeousness into one of those songs you want to listen to at bedtime but then can't fall asleep because you keep hitting the repeat button to hear it over and over again.

I am seriously dying right now because I have like 500 words to write about this other equally wonderful band that I'm going to share with you guys soon... but anyway, I just want to, like, submerge myself into a really hot bath and play this Memoryhouse song on repeat about 45 times, until my hands shrivel into prunes and the water turns cold.

I mean, this is just IT.

Here's the song.
Memoryhouse - Lately (Deuxieme)

Here's a slower, acoustic version.
Memoryhouse - Lately (Troisieme)

Here's Jon Brion, genius man's original.
Jon Brion - Phone Call

Love you all. Goodnight to you, top of the evening to me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Writing for Too Long

I've spent about 7 hours today writing about music and researching, and this is the end result:

I end up going absolutely insane and trying to incorporate lines like this into my album reviews!

If the song was the delightfully delicate body of a turtle, the sweet lyrical murmurs encase its inner beauty with a protective shell.

Holy crap, who the hell compares chillwave to a turtle?

This is some seriously demented brain work, even for me.

Stop me before I publish this junk!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pitchfork vs. Paste

It's seriously like a game of bad cop - good cop. All the damn time.

Pitchfork's take on Chief's new album, Modern Rituals:

"The transcontinental breadth of the band's influences keeps Chief from coming across as pallid piggybackers of any one scene, but for a group that hasn't yet demonstrated an ability to nail down a particular sound, keeping so many balls in the air could be stretching its talents too thin. Perhaps that explains why Chief are rarely better than competent at anything they try to do here." -Joshua Love

Paste's take on Chief's new album, Modern Rituals:

"The members of Chief have great pipes and each song on their debut LP Modern Rituals is centered on a soaring explosion of vocal euphony that could melt the heart of even the most jaded music fan. [...] with the power of their harmony and a few well-arranged standout tracks, Chief have managed to assemble a respectable record, and escape being written off as yet another batch of copycat folkies." -Luke Winkie

I find it mildly funny that Winkie thinks Modern Rituals could melt the heart of "even the most jaded music fan" because he must think Joshua Love is a strange man hanging to a thin piece of earth, dangling into the clutches of hell.

I mean, the contrast in writing here is a jump between intelligent pretentiousness and slightly fluffy fanboyish praise. I definitely enjoy reading praise more than rejection, but then again, I understand that we need to filter the crap out of the music released today (as Pitchfork handily does) to know what's worth our time, and what's just... not.

Guess we'd better just judge for ourselves.

Beach House - White Moon

Beach House - White Moon (Itunes Session) by subpop
Even stripped down to its very core, Beach House is the essence of beauty. That may sound like a quote from Zoolander, but I really do mean it genuinely. I don't think this group could produce any material I wouldn't want to wrap my arms around and squeeze so tightly I suffocate it.

Listening to Beach House is like taking a warm bath, playing in a room full of bubbles, cuddling with your big, furry dog, and then running through fields of sunflowers, only to crash on the grass giggling with giddy joy.

If you went back to your childhood, and peeked at all your best memories, and then made a little collage of them in one section of your brain to keep on reserve for later, well, I don't know the point I was trying to make here. But think about how happy those great memories make you, and then think about how joyous Beach House songs make you, and compare. I don't think it's really that similar or dissimilar. It's actually a terrible comparison. But I'll sum it up by saying: good memories and Beach House both create happiness, and it's the kind that tingles through your entire body.

There's something to be said about things that affect us that way. And I think it's called love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Thermals - Personal Life

While the music has been straightforward on The Thermals’ four prior releases – fleshy power chords, wiry bass, and the kind of sing-talking that encourages yelling along – the themes have been complex. The Body, The Blood, The Machine, for example, was a concept album about a couple fleeing from a fascist U.S. government. With Personal Life, the band is handling a topic that’s easier to grasp – the struggles and triumphs of a relationship. It’s a familiar theme, but the Portland-based trio’s infectious post-pop makes it impossible to ignore songs with even the simplest ideas or titles (“Never Listen to Me,” “Your Love is So Strong”). They immediately pull listeners into “I Don’t Believe You” with sing-along “Ohh ohhs,” spazzy drums, and hooky guitar that worms itself into every crevice of the brain like a rushing waterfall in a corn maze. Songs like “Power Lies” sprawl out on the straight-to-tape recording, allowing some space between the purring of the bass and intermittent guitar riffs. Personal Life starts with “I’m Gonna Change Your Life” and ends with “You Changed My Life.” The music in between is a hell of a journey that we’re lucky to take with them.

The Thermals - I Don't Believe You
The Thermals - Now We Can See

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


My favorite albums of the summer:

-Tokyo Police Club's Champ
-Best Coast's Crazy For You

I won't say much here, except these haikus:

I like to listen
When songs make me happy
These saved my summer

Guitar whimsy feels
Alive in my ears and skin
Jams fill me with joy

Best Music Writing of 2009

I recently finished this book, which took me through the supposed best music writing of last year. I don't know who chose some of the pieces, which I openly acknowledge were well-written, but also openly acknowledge put me to sleep 5 times before I finished them.

Of course, there were some gems - reminders of the absolute mastery of the writing craft - that made me shiver with delight. Inspiration, folks. That's what it's all about.

I'd like you to take a look at my absolute favorite article included in the book:

Unauthorized! Axl Rose, Albert Goldman, and the renegade art of rock biography, by James Parker

This guy writes a 5-page article, and from my perspective, it must have taken 5 years of research. Goddammit dude! Those are what I call skills!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s - Buzzard

The lush chamber-pop magnificence that Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s built their fanbase on makes its first appearance halfway through Buzzard, an album that rarely finds the band in the wide-eyed wonderment that gives its songs heart. Richard Edwards’ falsetto crooning is replaced with Interpol-worthy bass lines and stabbing, fuzzed-out guitars. (http://margotandthenuclearsoandsos.net)

I give you permission to skip listening to this album, and instead listen to Margot's The Dust of Retreat on repeat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Pershing

I found this old review I wrote for a website called realbuzz.com that subsequently decided it was only going to be a fitness website, taking down the first internet proof that I was a music writer. I have some of the documents I wrote for them saved on my computer, and I thought the one I wrote about SSLYBY is sort of funny. I thought the album was called Perishing, when it was really named Pershing after a WWI general. Also, my writing had an informality and unpretentiousness and naivete that I think I've fallen away from slightly. I sort of wish I heard music through the same ears as I used to. My writing today feels more forced.

Their next performance is in a middle school cafeteria. You know, preteens, French fries, and – an indie pop band? The situation is a bit atypical. Then again, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin isn’t exactly classifiable as your standard stuffy, snobbish pop stars. The four boys are a bunch of average joes from Springfield, Missouri. But little things, like the cafeteria performance and the fact that they named themselves after Russia’s first president on a whim, show a playfulness that sadly seems forgotten in circles of music elitists and in top 40 artists alike.

SSLYBY doesn’t want to be taken seriously. Nor do they take themselves seriously. They invoke a careless, fun-loving vibe in Perishing, watching the world as it changes before their eyes, but refusing to let it get them down. Why get bogged down by weighty issues when you can let the music distract you a little?

The songs on this album invoke lovely thoughts – those of sunshine, childhood, cheesy jokes, red popsicles, and, well, cheerful things. Every song has some kind of special touch of happiness throughout. Take “Oceanographer,” for example. Two alternating chords lead to a whimsical, but brief, “wooooo!” You know the “woo” was planned, but the group sneaks it in there so slyly, it sounds like a masterpiece of spontaneous creativity. In “Dead Right,” lyrics like “you’re gonna lose it/if you don’t choose it” mock the whole “you lose it if you don’t use it” myth that middle school health classes try to dispel.

SSLYBY have made an impeccable bunch of well-crafted pop tunes on this Polyvinyl Records release. Each song is a glittering gem, tying riffs and drum beats together in a pattern that radiates a kind of beauty that can only be found in music that carries a pure and unfettered simplicity. You might compare them to sunny folk like Nada Surf and Rogue Wave (they do sound incredibly similar to the latter). “Think I Wanna Die” may have morbid title, but the effervescent, jumpy track is one of the best on the album.

SSLYBY weave themes like young love and heartbreak through the album. Lines like “maybe if I lay low/ love will fall around my door,” in the album opener “Glue Girls” is one demonstration of the band’s youthful hopefulness and positivity.

A listen through Perishing is refreshing, easy, and, if you are a fan of plain old pop, guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Just remember to watch out. These four goofballs could soon be coming to a cafeteria near you. You might just be able to find a way to sneak in (and steal some tater tots while you’re at it).

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Best 10 Minutes

Let's go back. Way back. We're going back to the summer of 2007. It was my second music festival experience, and it was a life-changing weekend. Instead of rehashing lots of old memories (you guys are already sick of hearing about Lollapalooza 2010 - why would you want to hear about Lolla '07 again?), I'm going to talk about 10 minutes of this festival that blew my mind.

!!!, Chk Chk Chk, Bam Bam Bam (or Jizz Jizz Jizz, as their bass player insisted to me in an interview when I asked him his favorite moniker for the band) is a ridiculous band in so many ways. I've written about them before on this blog, but let's talk about the past for a second.

Tonight, as I'm getting ready to go out on a Friday night, and reminded of !!! because I read Pitchfork's review of their new album today, I threw them on. I played a few of their new songs, but as always, I had to go back to Myth Takes. It was an album that stayed in my car stereo for an ENTIRE SUMMER.

So by the time I got to Chicago in 2007, and saw Nic Offer in person, I was pretty much pumped.

The first two songs they played were the first two songs off Myth Takes. I had to leave behind my friends, who were too exhausted to stand for the set. I made my way to a back corner, and moved my body like I was trying to shake off a billion microscopic cockroaches. So did the rest of the crowd. "Myth Takes" went straight into "All My Heroes Are Weirdos," and I truly cannot imagine too many other 10 minute periods in my life that felt as exhilaratingly vivacious as that one-two punch. Nic Offer came into the crowd, grabbing his balls Michael Jackson-style. His dance moves looked like my gay 12-year-old cousin's (if I had one of those). It was amazing!

I saw them two years later at the Pitchfork festival. It wasn't the same. It's ok though. I had my 10 minutes of !!! bliss, and I'll never forget that. Dancing around my room to Myth Takes, I relive the moment every few months.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue

If Ben Folds has a weakness, it’s not his lyrics. Through his career, he’s done serious (“Brick,” was based on his girlfriend’s abortion), goofy (“Rockin’ the Suburbs” mocks the challenges of “being male, middle class, and white”), and everything in between. His clever verbosity is one of the key elements that keep bringing Folds’ fans back.

Yet Nick Hornby—the music-loving novelist responsible for High Fidelity and About a Boy—wrote all the lyrics for Lonely Avenue, which Folds then transformed into an 11-song collection.

The upbeat pop tunes jump to life like a room of bouncy balls. “Working Day” reflects the emotional highs and lows of one day of work in less than two minutes. “Levi Johnston’s Blues,” a song about Bristol Palin’s boyfriend, comes a little too late to be timely; nonetheless, it hilariously interprets Johnson’s point of view. As Folds haphazardly chugs on a stuttered drumbeat and bluntly yelps, “I’m a fuckin’ redneck, I live to hang out with the boys/Play some hockey, do some fishing, kill some moose,” Hornby’s mixed sympathy and mockery of the teenage boy charms.

Still, most of Lonely Avenue is a collection of swelling ballads that heave like a hefty cry, further enhanced with string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. “Picture Window,” “Claire’s Ninth,” and “Belinda” are intimate narratives a sick child, the damage of divorce, and life of a one hit wonder. The latter is not something Folds or Hornby will ever have to worry about, and while Lonely Avenue isn’t a crowning glory for either, it is yet another inspired work to add to their collection.

Song of the Day

Menomena - "Taos"

A good way to start the day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lo-fi Glory + Cleveland Roots = Cloud Nothings

Today was a good day of emails.

I never find any music I like in the stuff publicists send over, but today was, like I said, a good day.

They sent me Cloud Nothings. Cloud Nothings is a band from Cleveland.

I'm finding a trend in my music appreciation lately and that trend is as follows: I am attracted to music that retains a melody amongst a fuzz of messy, floppy fuzz. The more corporatized I find my life - the more I'm sucked into the cluster of business meetings and long hours in the office and sleazy salesmen (yes, most of the sleazes are, in fact, men - i'm not really overgeneralizing here. but i guess a few i've encountered are women) and rules and health insurance policies and finances.... you get the point... the more I find myself searching for something so primal and untouched by the Man.

All I want to listen to is Japandroids, Jay Reatard, Wavves, Best Coast, and, now, Cloud Nothings. I don't even have to think when I hear these bands, but instead, I haze over and pretend that I'm not a Type A personality freak who is insanely and passionately paralyzed by my own continuous failure.

I mean, I am a perfectionist freak, but sometimes I let myself lie on the carpet in my room, and I listen to a song like "Hey Cool Kid" on repeat. I let the simplicity vibrate through my ears and my entire body. I feel the power of this 18 year old's vocals in the fact that he's actually NOT exuding power; rather, he's letting the song drive his voice forward in an unassuming way.

Listening to the song, I fantasize about having the kind of life I used to have - one where I didn't walk around with my bruised pride like a scarlet letter, hindering me from confidence. Cloud Nothings let me become that person I used to be, and that I will be again.

Cloud Nothings - Hey Cool Kid

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best Weezer SOT

Back when I was a broadcast journalist (oh, say, one year ago), we always talked about and looked for the best SOTs.

SOT stands for Sound On Tape, which really just means a sound bite (captured on video, ya dig?). In journalism land, it kind starts sounding like slang, like "Oh, man, I got the best SOT today! It's going to be in the show teaser!" or "I sat through this whole press conference about the boring potential candidate for the Vice Provost of Ohio University, and I didn't get one good SOT."

At one point, I played on a intramural softball team called the VO-SOT-VO's. That's a sort of TV story (VO - voice over). It was pretty ha-ha-funny-journalist of us, and we were terrible and probably lost every game and I was so young that I just hoped that someone would talk to me and maybe I would catch a ball in the outfield so I could prove that I could hang with the older senior journalists.

What I'm getting at here is that I found a quote that so witty, true, and amazingly structured that I have to upgrade it from "great quote" to "best SOT of the day." Even if it is only in print.

Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, you've done it again:

"AND YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT IS GOING ON IN RIVERS CUOMO’S MIND RIGHT NOW FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS, was he kidnapped by aliens who replaced him with a pod person who looks exactly like Rivers but has an alien’s brain, did success drive him literally insane, does he know how bad Weezer is now or does he actually think (in his “heart of hearts”) this is good? is it performance art and in like five years he’ll reveal that he was just joking around for like fifteen years? what would a transcript of his cognitive process even look like? a few days ago Jacob asked me if i could think of an artist that’s disappointed their fans more consistently than Weezer and i couldn’t think of one at the time but now i think maybe M. Night Shyamalan?"

And another SOT, in the VERY SAME BLOG ENTRY!

"and now as Danielle Staub shimmies on stage at this strip club on her 48th birthday after the debut performance of her debut pop disco single, presumably off a record that is to Paris Hilton’s pop record what an Indian reservation casino is to Las Vegas"

Oh man, who could even think about comparing Indian reservation casinos to Vegas? Brilliant

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spring Wind in a Torrential Downpour

All this time, and I never stopped loving Jack Johnson.

As my tastes grew spicier, and my friends more musically “selective,” never did I ever stop loving the warm blasts of heat that radiate from Johnson’s voice or the strummy, strummy style of his guitar – the way it sways back and forth like palm trees on a calm day.

I forgot about him, sure, but the love never went away.

I forgot about the Banana Pancakes and the Bubble Toes. I forgot about the days I spent downloading Jack Johnson on a dial-up connection, waiting an hour for each three-minute morsel. I forgot about how easy life used to be – waking up at noon on the weekends after gossip sessions in a friend’s basement, football games followed by late night Denny’s milkshakes.

I went to college, I kept listening to Jack Johnson. I worried about boys liking me. I worried about getting good grades. I worried about finding my way to the Jack Johnson concert at Blossom without getting lost.

Suddenly, life started changing. I got over the acoustic-music part of my life. Gone were the days of Mason Jennings and early John Mayer and Ben Harper. Life was growing more complex, and the music I listened to mostly reflected that. The contemplative lyrics of the National, the complex musical structures of John Vanderslice. Worries shifted – would I get a job after college? What was I doing with my life? Did I like the person I was becoming?

Life got so complicated.

So this morning, as I was driving to work listening to the new soundtrack to 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless, an album that compiles James Mercer (the Shins), Mason Jennings, and - of course - Jack Johnson, I just had to stop and breathe for a second. Johnson’s “Spring Wind” kinda knocked me down in its quiet simplicity. Sometimes there is a beauty in life so uncomplicated, so pure, and it hides there among the folds and folds of worry and stress. And you have to remember that life needs a good Jack Johnson song every now and then.

I want to remember the things I’ve loved, and not just for nostalgia’s sake. I want to openly embrace this new Jack Johnson song. It’s not an advance for mankind, nor does it challenge me in any way. But it stands as a reminder that life is pretty good, when you throw some of the crap aside. So I’ll revel in the strum of Johnson’s guitar and the kindling warmth of his vocals once again. I’ll remember I love it.

Jack Johnson - Spring Wind
Photo by Elle Nicolai

Monday, August 9, 2010

College Radio - A Week in Reviews

I listened and listened through 23 albums, and this is what's worth your time.

-DaLush and the Click - Ruff Rugged & Raw

This is totally a novelty album at this point - they are releasing this mid-nineties old-school rap album, and it's hilariously witty, semi-ridiculous, and awesome.

-The Chemical Brothers - Further

Ambient, electronic, futuristic and otherworldly - like what really chill aliens would listen to if they were really moody.

-Lille - Tall Shoulders
You need "Melancholera"

Adorable ukulele pop songs. This girl has an amazing voice with beautiful range, invents words like "Melancholera" and has interesting lyrics that draw you into her stories. I'm obsessed with this 18 year old.

-Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork
You need "Living Decorations"

Really intricate math rock with complex drum patterns and noodling guitar patterns. They tour with Vampire Weekend and Princeton, and it's kinda afro-poppy like them also. Super lightweight and fun.

-Marco Benevento - Between the Needles and Nightfall
You need "Greenpoint"

Instrumental, hypnotic electro-pop/jazz that doesn't follow much of a pattern but still manages to stay interesting and fluid through all the songs. It's very colorful, with sprinkles of piano and smatterings of percussion and a reflective vibe.

The Beauties - S/T
You need "Fashion Blues"

The first track, "Fashion Blues," is one of those classic road trip songs that need to be blasted in the car.

Bibi Tanga and the Selenites - Dunya
You need "Swing Swing"

The best songs here are a fusion of hip-hop and eclectic world music. They are all over the place, kind of like your body is going to be when you dance to this.

Rock out, kids!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Significance of a Funeral in the middle of The Suburbs

It came to me on my first ever MP3 CD, and that alone warrants some attention. It is Arcade Fire's debut album. Funeral came out in 2004, and I first heard the entire album in the summer before my senior year of high school. I was working as a camp counselor at a day camp. By day, I had eighteen 9 and 10 year olds hanging on my arms and legs, accompanied by a less than admirable co-counselor. At the end of the day, after we took the school bus back from the campsite to the community center, I was free. I jumped in the pool for an hour or so, and sped off onto abandoned backroads on my way home.

It was the first summer that I had my own car, and I had a hand-me-down convertible at that. That fading green piece of junk came with an MP3 CD player in tow, all the way from my uncle in Arizona. My friend, and fellow counselor, Jeff, gave me my first MP3 CD.

That CD stayed in the little dinky player all summer. I had problems with it every day. It wouldn’t turn on, it would turn off randomly, I’d have to fix the cords, find the perfect place for it to sit on the passenger seat. It always defaulted to play the first song, and there was no way to skip to song number 80, so oftentimes, I just left it at the beginning.

The beginning was Arcade Fire.

My first taste of freedom behind the wheel was accompanied by an album that pushed every boundary for me. Until that summer, subversive music in my repertoire included Dashboard Confessional and, yikes, some Yellowcard. Funeral was like nothing I’d ever heard – it wasn’t like my dad’s classic rock albums that I had tried to ignore in middle school, it wasn’t oldies, and it sure wasn’t anything I’d hear on the radio or amongst my choir buddies (who introduced me to pop punk/emo).

“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” starts the album. How many times that summer did I hear the peaceful alien twinkling of the keys that sounded like glittering raindrops? You hear Win Butler’s voice creep in there, ominously, full of texture and full of reason. I used to look up those lyrics on songmeanings.net.

He took nothing easily. “Meet me in the middle, the middle of the town,” he demanded. “We let our hair grow long, and forget all we used to know.” The song kicks into high gear, rushing to life. Funeral begins.

And then there was “Neighborhood #2 (Laika),” which was the most bizarre song on the album. I loved the screeching jabs of guitar, Butler’s hoarsely yelled lines, and the pure intensity of the mess. Clean beats held the song together, even when it felt like a village of people was singing along.

Can you imagine this small girl, accustomed to corporatized music and clean tennis shoes and a job in the middle of a campground, finding her world turned upside down every afternoon on her drive home? I was floored. This was a new future.

I saw U2’s Vertigo Tour the next year. Right before the band took the arena stage, “Wake Up” blasted from the massive speakers, bringing the auditorium to life. That’s when I knew: Arcade Fire was so much bigger than I even knew.

I listen to Funeral now, and it hasn’t lost any of its profundity. There’s the eerie quiet of “In the Backseat,” and the driving motion of “Rebellion (Lies).” The workhorse feeling of “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” glares at listeners like a ball of fire, ready to shoot into the air with the thrust of a hip. Funeral took a cheese grater to my conventions, shredding my past expectations and manufacturing a whole new set.

So where will The Suburbs fit into my chronological learning process? Of course, I hope it feels as significant as the hypecloud of excitement is telling me. But when Arcade Fire’s first album became the foundation of my present musical obsession, it makes me wonder if anything will compare, no matter the magnitude.

Dawes @ Beachland Tavern Tonight

Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes writes about what he only knows halfway – feelings he doesn’t understand. Whether or not he is an expert on his own emotions, he knows how to use them to draw sentiments from the crowd. “Our songs are lyric-based, and in our live show we try to convey that. I’m not the kind of singer who kinda closes his eyes behind the mic. Without thinking about it, I end up kinda acting out the material.” The other three members of Dawes, which include Goldsmith’s brother Griffin, add three-part harmonies. Dawes’ live shows are more plugged in than you’d expect their 2009 debut album, North Hills, a mellow, California-influenced record of plaintive alt-country strummers. Acoustic guitars are abandoned for electric, and the foursome aims for a more aggressive sound. “When My Time Comes,” a foot-tapper, is clearly inspired by Bruce Springsteen, while charmers like “Love Is All I Am” feels like one of those timeless late summer songs that’s right at home under a sunset through fields of cattails. If you’re like Goldsmith, and have a thing for Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Jackson Browne, you wont need fields of grain or picturesque settings to feel at home. You’ll find happiness simply by sitting back and giving Dawes a listen. The band was just in town with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and the guys are bringing their female-wooing vocals and California bedhead back to town.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rogue Wave @ Grog Shop Tonight

Rogue Wave have had to overcome some pretty tough obstacles over the past few years: the tragic death of a former bandmate, a kidney transplant, and a spinal-cord problem that numbed one of the members’ hands. So it’s all the more surprising that they craft such peaceful pop songs that feature the sound of chirping birds. Out of the Shadow, their 2004 debut, is full of happy tunes like “Nourishment Nation,” which gleefully declares “one more bite until we go” on top of chiming bells and simple guitar strumming. On the new Permalight, Rogue Wave step away from their sweet acoustic music toward a more danceable set of songs. Frontman Zach Rogue incorporates electronic beats and plenty of vivacious synths that blast in several different directions. He was confined to playing his lightest instrument, a Sears Silvertone guitar, after slipping two disks in his neck a couple years ago. The Oakland-based band recorded Permalight while Rogue’s right hand was still numb. But Rogue Wave sound more alive than ever. Get ready for handclaps and smiles — onstage and off — when the band comes to town tonight.