Rogue Wave Asleep At Heaven's Gate

This year has been a difficult one for established indie acts. With disappointing records by Interpol, the New Pornographers, the Shins and the Go! Team, anticipating new music from a dear band is becoming a stressful job. Jumping from Sub Pop to acoustic surfer dude Jack Johnson’s Brushfire imprint, Oakland’s Rogue Wave have had a difficult two years since they released 2005’s sparkling Descended Like Vultures. Drummer Pat Spurgeon received a kidney transplant, bassist Evan Farrell was replaced by Patrick Abernathy (ex-Beulah), Gram LeBron lost his father and Zach Rogue became one. Unfortunately, such distractions seem to have affected Rogue Wave because Asleep At Heaven’s Gate is a middling effort from a band that have proven they can do better for their b-sides (see "Eyes”). Kicking off with "Harmonium,” a direct standout teeming with epically sensitive splendour, the first half of the album fares well. Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws lends his lungs to give "Chicago x 12” its warm, fuzzy feeling, while "Lullaby” follows that familiar terrain of the band’s quiet-to-loud/off-rhythm noise pop we’ve grown to love. However, once the curtain rises for the second act, Asleep begins to live up to its title. "Ghost” finds them treading college rock mediocrity, "Phonytown” is a weak outtake that somehow slipped onto the finished product and as powerful as the title suggests, "Cheaper Than Therapy” fails to deliver any sort of climactic sentiment. For certain they can bounce back, so I guess we just chalk this up as a bad year for yet another good band. (Brushfire/Universal)