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Rogue Wave | Out of the Shadow (Responsive)
The debut album by San Francisco's Rogue Wave is essentially the work of frontman Zach Rogue, assisted by drummer Nathan Petty and Alex Sterling on keys and harmony vocals. Rogue has since recruited a trio of players under the Rogue Wave banner and the first results of that alliance will be a five-song EP scheduled for release later this year. Until then we have to make do with this, your editor's favourite record of 2003. I'm saying this in the middle of May, but it's a judgement I'm confident will stand firm come December 30th.
Blessed with the level of melodic mastery associated with the likes of Elliott Smith and few others, Rogue's songs build from an assured foundation and, through a variety of sonic textures, find their identity. His voice has some of Smith's breathy intimacy yet is simultaneously reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Ken Stringfellow (particularly on album highlight Falcon Settles Me) and a young Paul Simon. From the infectious indie-psych of Endless Shovel and similarly upbeat Nourishment Nation and Seasick on Land, to the acoustic beauty of Be Kind + Remind and Falcon Settles Me 'Out of the Shadow' never puts a foot wrong. Tucked away in the second half are two more examples of Rogue's gift, both Endgame and Man-Revolutionary! providing those all-too-rare moments of spine-tingling splendour. As close to perfection as you could dare wish for.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003