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Rogue Wave - Asleep At Heaven's Gate

Rogue Wave, Asleep At Heaven's Gate

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ASLEEP At Heaven’s Gate is actually the third album from American band, Rogue Wave – not that many UK listeners might know that. Given its quality, though, they may well find themselves rushing out to discover what’s come before.

Built around ethereal vocal harmonies, a lyrical mystique and some terrific guitar melodies, this is an album of mesmerising quality that offers obvious appeal to fans of The Flaming Lips, The Shins and Nada Surf.

Opening with the six-minute space rock of Harmonium, which effortlessly displays the band’s penchant for lush guitar work and reflective vocals, it then hits its stride with the breezy Like I Needed, an “ooh ooh” laden joyride of a track that epitomises the sound of West Coast America. It’s one that boasts certain appeal to anyone who gets their musical kicks from the likes of The Shins and Nada Surf and is almost certainly on Zach Braff’s watchlist.

The chiming guitar riffs continue into the slightly more sedate Chicago x12, which slow-builds to a rousing wall of sound finale, before the band slow things down completely for the reflective album highlight (and former single) Lake Michigan. Featuring a shimmering piece of guitar work, some fine vocal melodising and a vibe that’s reminiscent of The Shins and The Beach Boys at their best, this is a warm, deeply melodic single that’s designed to make you feel good about yourself. There’s even an element of psychedelia that works to its advantage.

Thereafter, the keen sense of melody and instrumental creativity continues to work its magic. Lullaby is beaten out on the rolling groove of the chain gang to lend it another distinctive edge, while there’s a shimmering acoustic feel surrounding the warm guitar licks of Christians In Black.

On Your Own Home could have been born in Manchester and has a definite Oasis vibe, while the ethereal vibe returns with a vengeance on another favourite, Ghost, which invokes the spirit of both Wayne Coyne and Sigur Ros. It’s a heartmelter of a track.

I also really liked the wistful Fantasies, which owes much to the style of The Shins, and haunting final track Cheaper Than Therapy, which hints at a more melancholy sensibility courtesy of its spacey vocals and stripped back instrumentation. It builds into another beautifully layered composition and ends the LP on a really thought-provoking note.

The quality of Asleep At Heaven’s Gate is all the more remarkable given the turbulent events that went into realising it. In the past year, drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, keyboardist Gram Lebron lost his father, frontman Zach Rogue had a daughter, and the band recruited a new bass player in Patrick Abernathy. They also enlisted Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws and John Vanderslice for guest appearances.

It all adds up to a cracking listening experience that fills you with hope, whilst leaving a decidedly warm glow. It deserves to be hailed as an instant classic.

Download picks: Harmonium, Like I Needed, Lake Michigan, Ghost, Fantasies, Cheaper Than Therapy

Track listing:

  1. Harmonium
  2. Like I Needed
  3. Chicago x 12
  4. Lake Michigan
  5. Lullaby
  6. Christians In Black
  7. Own Your Own Home
  8. Ghost
  9. Missed
  10. Fantasies
  11. Phonytown
  12. Cheaper Than Therapy
  13. Electro-Socket Blues