April 3, 2011

missed the last train home / birds pass by to tell me that i’m not alone

I woke up bright and early in San Diego this morning to take the train back up to Los Angeles, where I am enjoying the weekend. For the record, the early train leaves at 7:39, not 7:49. Always double check.

So I went walking on the Del Mar beach instead and sang this song under my breath, over the sound of waves. It was, in a word, a pretty perfect morning.

Eyes – Rogue Wave

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February 25, 2010

Fuel/Friends debut: Rogue Wave “Solitary Gun” video clip

San Francisco Bay Area band Rogue Wave has stolen my heart in many ways over the years, and not just because of where they hail from. Their music lilts and lifts, drenched in sonorous harmonies and prominent percussion.

For their upcoming album Permalight (out March 2 on Brushfire) they have assembled 11 short videos with the help of Tyler Manson and Emmett Malloy, filmed in and around the Bay Area. This one shows our favorite organ donation recipient out and about, with his awesome hair and his good attitude.

This retro-feeling song starts the album, with the singsong falsetto opening before the handclaps hit:

Solitary Gun – Rogue Wave

Read more about their adventures and concept behind the filming over at IFC (including the Zach Rogue’s love of Bluebottle coffee – yum) and watch all the video vignettes from around the SF Bay Area as they are unveiled at the Rogue Wave site.

rogue wave permalight

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November 10, 2009

Rogue Wave’s “D Tour” documentary premieres tonight on PBS

The independent music documentary “D Tour” (Dialysis Tour) is about Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon’s struggle with a failing kidney, a search for a donor, while still trying to still pursue the music that is vital to his contentment. I watched it one warm evening this summer and found it both inspiring and challenging — punctuated throughout with terrific musical moments.

d tour posterIn addition to being a compelling look at the organ donation system in the US today, the pitfalls that can snare underinsured musicians, and some of the difficulties and nastiness of life, the film prominently features a lot of excellent music footage from that benefit show at SF’s Independent back in 2006 that I so wanted to go to. it speaks compellingly to the healing power of music. At that delicious show, Rogue Wave was joined on stage by friends like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, and John Vanderslice.

UPDATE: The entire movie is now streaming on PBS!

A lot of you guys donated to the fund when I bribed you wrote about it back then, so I hope you’ll take some time to watch the documentary when it debuts tonight on PBS’ Independent Lens series, or order the film on DVD for $20. The film has won accolades at several festivals, including the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the most recent Rogue Wave album Asleep At Heaven’s Gate (2007) is still on heavy rotation around these parts. I am looking forward to their new one in early Spring 2010.

Here’s the lilting song that plays over the credits, a brand new one from Rogue Wave. To download an mp3 version, please go over to their site and sign up!

Positive Hero Worship – Rogue Wave

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September 11, 2008

Rogue Wave cover Neil Young’s “Birds”

When I posted the new Rogue Wave video at the beginning of the summer, a reader posted a comment looking for Rogue Wave‘s cover of the 1970 Neil Young song “Birds” that they’d just covered at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Intriguing.

Well, after months of fruitless searching, I finally was pointed in the direction of a superb-quality acoustic version from FNX Radio in Boston. Warm, sparkling, and heartfelt:

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It’s over

Birds (Neil Young cover) – Rogue Wave

[pic up top taken by me at Outside Lands]

June 4, 2008

Bob Odenkirk’s Director’s Cut of the new Rogue Wave video: “Chicago x12″

In a strongly-worded missive over on his MySpace, comedic writer/filmmaker Bob Odenkirk gets all feisty and legally threatening about his new video for Rogue Wave‘s “Chicago x12.” After first assuming “Wow, this guy’s a serious jerk, ” now after watching the video I kinda think, “Wow, this is a brilliant bit of marketing.” You be the judge:

Rogue Wave “Chicago x 12″ (Bob Odenkirk/Director’s Cut)

With the cutout cardboard figures parading around Reseda, the surreal nature of the Director’s Cut version actually suits the imaginative feeling of the song pretty well. And then there’s the karate dude that we’re not sure what to do with. A catchy song off a rather majestic album nonetheless.

Chicago x12 – Rogue Wave

Watch for the band’s version of the video to be released in the coming weeks. Oh, it’s on.

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January 8, 2008

Rogue Wave’s all over my radar lately

Rogue Wave has been popping up in simply the most delightful places for me in recent days.

First, over Christmas my brother got Season One of the Heroes tv show on DVD so we fed our addiction like crack, watching as many in a row as we could stay awake for (and then having really freaky dreams — at least I did). In the very first episode, they used the Rogue Wave song “Eyes” to great effect, and I was struck afresh by what a lovely little 2:28 wisp of a song it is. It was looping in my head all day.

Birds pass by to tell me that I’m not alone . . .”

Eyes – Rogue Wave

Then yesterday I saw that the fabulous Daytrotter (which seriously may be one of the best and most innovative DIY music sites out there today) has a new live session with Rogue Wave, including a performance of their unreleased song “Desperate.” It’s a tune that makes me feel like I am floating underwater and looking up at the sun filtering in.

Desperate (previously unreleased) – Rogue Wave

Listen to/download the rest of the Daytrotter set here. Rogue Wave also just announced that they will be supporting Nada Surf on the upcoming European Tour from February 20-March 5th.

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August 27, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

“Mom, I find it interesting that you refer to the Weekly World News as . . . ‘The Paper.’ The paper contains facts.”

(Scottish accent) “This paper contains facts. And this paper has the eighth highest circulation in the whole wide world. Right? Plenty of facts. ‘Pregnant man gives birth.’ That’s a fact.”

The Weekly World News published its swansong final issue today, and of course when I read about it this morning, I fondly thought of one of my favorite Nineties movies — the San Francisco-filmed, Mike Myers acted, boppy-indie-rock soundtracked, So I Married An Axe Murderer. If you’ve seen it, you likely remember that quote above between Charlie McKenzie and his momma.

With the WWN gone, where will I turn now for my checkout line perusal needs? I guess it’s all news of Lohan and Britney for me from here on out. I kind of prefer stories of alien babies and massive political/religious conspiracies. Bah.

Here’s your recommended weekly musical allowance:

Toad The Wet Sprocket
Since we’re talking about So I Married An Axe Murderer, here’s my vote for the best dang song off that soundtrack. Maybe you are singing, “There sheeeeee goes…” in your head right now (The underrated La’s), or maybe “One two princes kneel before you – that’s what I said now” (the not-underrated Spin Doctors). But this Toad The Wet Sprocket tune from the soundtrack remains a superb Toad b-side, possibly the best track off this album and also off the In Light Syrup rarities compilation. “Brother” always makes me feel really happy inside, from that ebullient opening melody through the heartfelt lyrics of brotherly love. A great one – put it on your next mixtape.

Pass The Buck

The new Stereophonics album Pull The Pin is an absolute supernova. I’ve been listening to the forthcoming album from these Welsh rockers all weekend and I woke up with this particular track in my head. Whenever that happens — a song rising unbidden to my mental jukebox player first thing in the morning — that means it’s gotten inside me and I need to write something about it. This is a cocky, flippant, unyielding tune that just makes you feel like the coolest person in the room, with backing vocals on the verses that invoke a surprising bit of catchy bubblegum goodness. Maybe I’m the only one who hears this, but the chorus of this track reminds me a bit of Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady).” They’re not the same, but they enjoy standing next to each other.

Parker Mosli
I was catching up with Fuel-favorite Bay Area musician Jake Troth, and was really pleased by the danceable melodies and late-night beats of his new side project, Parker Mosli. This project is a collaboration between Jake (who’s also been busy writing a melody featured on the new album of pals Rogue Wave) and fellow relocated Charlotte, NC native Joshua Panda. Recommended for fans of !!! and Mark Ronson, but with some indulgent hand-clappy goodness – love it. They’ve got some more tunes on their MySpace and an EP available.

100 Days 100 Nights
Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
Remember my rant on Dreamgirls a few weeks ago? This song is exactly what I would have loved to see in that film, except this tune is a modern day confection that just sounds like it was made in the ’50s. Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings (what a fun band name) hit the Brooklyn music scene in 2002 with their own brand of swinging retro funk and soul, sounding like no one else right now. They’re also the backing band on Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black album and (stalled) tour. Retro is so hot right now. Their latest full length album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, will be out October 2nd on Daptone Records, and is worth buying just for the subtle fun of that cover alone.

Collective Soul
My sister is moaning in agony right now that I am writing about Collective Soul. We kind of had an unspoken pact growing up in the “Shine” era that if either of us ever liked Collective Soul, then the other person should immediately kill us. Sorry, but that song got pretty dang annoying in the summer of 1994. I’ve been out of the loop on the rest of their output, so I could be very, very wrong — because I will freely admit that I find this song absolutely irresistible. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of their new album Afterwords, out tomorrow on El Records and, somehow, through Target.

August 20, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Part of my birthday celebration of special things to do yesterday involved getting a little spur-of-the-moment fifteen minute “Traditional Chinese Massage” at the mall from a spry little Asian man for $12.

I thought he was all going to adjust my feng shui and tap my meridians, but instead he just wailed on my back (and pinched the back of my ankles – what is that?). I felt like I was going through a car wash — you know the part where the floppy brushes whap and whap and whap your car windshield and you think just for a moment that it might break? Yeah, like that. I am actually sore this morning, feeling like I got jumped into Fight Club with none of the fun.

It was a beautiful Colorado summer day yesterday, replete with a warm afternoon rain and a fiery sunset. Three things that made me happy as I celebrated: a) trying on a hot pink one-piece strapless terrycloth jumper/track-shorts thingie that made me feel like a full-fledged member of Three’s Company b) going out to a lovely birthday dinner at our local brewery with a few girlfriends I am lucky to know and c) really ridiculously enjoying some fresh cold watermelon from our local farmer’s market. Simple pleasures of an August birthday.

It’s hard to believe that I am 28 now. I moved here when I was 25, and turned 26 shortly thereafter, but somehow the leap from there (right in the middle of my twenties) to 28 seems a long one, since one year from today I will be a year shy of thirty. Sheesh. I still feel maybe 15, 16. I am officially in the twilight of my youth, I’ve been told. It’s a good life, a wonderful life, and I have no complaints, but how did 28 creep up on me?

Here’s something that makes me feel urgently 15 again:

Take Care Of Us
Star Spangles
This is absolutely my new favorite album of the moment. I’ve been a fan of these gritty NYC rockers for about two years now [previous post], but I’ve been out of the loop and their newest release Dirty Bomb (2007, Tic Records) slipped right past me. The Westerberg-meets-Malin-meets-Clash blend percolates to a perfect urgent richness on this newest effort and it is addictive, melodic, catchy rough-edged rock. If you buy it over on this newfangled Amie Street thingie you get 3 extra tracks and the whole thing will only set you back like $6. It’s the deal of the summer for this much goodness.

Rogue Wave
I picked up this excellent charity benefit CD while I was in San Francisco this past February for the Noise Pop Festival and completely forgot to write anything about it. At The Crossroads is a benefit for homeless youth in the City by the Bay, and for a mere $12 you get a perfectly balanced blend of bands you’ve heard of and bands you haven’t, all bringing their A-game to the comp. Artists include Calexico, Creeper Lagoon, Scissors for Lefty, Elephone, Bettie Serveert, Scrabbel (who I saw open for Cake the night I got this CD) and The Faint. A few of the tunes are fun covers (Morrissey’s “Please (x3) Let Me Get What I Want” and U2′s “Seconds”). Good music for a good cause, this song is summery and shimmery — I am glad Rogue Wave offered it up for this compilation.

Night Windows

I’ve been excited to hear the upcoming Reunion Tour album from The Weakerthans after hearing effusive praise from a few pals who have given it a spin already — and after hearing this track I see why. I have a penchant for sharp lyrics, and this is an area where Canada’s The Weakerthans [previous post] stand out. Their incisive, introspective feel will probably remind you a little bit of Death Cab For Cutie if you haven’t listened to The Weakerthans before; they are a richly nuanced group that I really enjoy. This song could undeniably be the most perfect summer night driving song ever recorded. You can almost see the yellow lines flitting past, feel the warm summer wind rushing in the open windows. Reunion Tour is due September 25 on Anti-/Epitaph Records.


A DJ friend of mine in Seattle raved about these guys, and holy cow just hearing the opening twenty seconds of this indeed makes me want to get up and dance, in his club or in my living room. We’re talking an inexorable pull, with those James Brown teasing guitar licks meets Talking Heads shouts. Apparently Datarock is a duo from Norway that have a penchant for matching track suits (hey, kind of like that time I saw Devo!) and make their own brand of urgent dance-punk-electronica. Those awesome Norwegians. This is off their 2005 album Datarock, and I just learned that this song will also make you want to drink cola beverages, or so hopes Coca-Cola in their newest commercial.

Complete Shakeup
Travel By Sea
My pal the Aquarium Drunkard has his own little record label dealie going on (you know those cool L.A. types) called Autumn Tone Records and is slowly building a quality catalog of mostly alt-country and folk releases. Travel By Sea is a lazy, sun-flecked, swing in a hammock on a late summer day band that hails from a California/Colorado long distance collaboration between Kyle Kersten and Brian Kraft. Their beautifully crafted-album Shadows Rise is now being re-released on Autumn Tone, with a new album expected any day now.

August 13, 2007

New Rogue Wave: Lake Michigan

Consider this a mini-addendum to my recent post on Rogue Wave’s newest album, Asleep At Heaven’s Gate, out 9/18. We have audio!
Lake Michigan – Rogue Wave

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August 7, 2007

Rogue Wave wants to jam with you; can you come over?

It was a dark and stormy night in May (all the best stories start with dark and stormy) when I got a phone call from a friend: “Hey, I’m heading out to Rogue Wave‘s Oakland studio for a huge jam session for their new album!” Along with thirty of their friends, ranging in age from teensy to old, experienced musican to absolute novice, Rogue Wave staged a melodic cacophony for in their song “Own Your Own Home” on their newest album Asleep At Heaven’s Gate. It sounded like an insufferably cool idea to me at the time, and guess what?

It was.

ROGUE WAVE: The Making of Asleep At Heaven’s Gate

Impressions of the third studio release from this talented Bay Area band are extremely positive. This record could go huge for Rogue Wave if people have their ears on right. It is fresh and musically rich — apparently over 150 instruments were used on the album, and my ears love it.

The album has a jangle and a shimmer a la former Sub-Pop labelmates The Shins or Band of Horses, but I also find it echoing another one of my favorite records lately, The Swimmers from Philadelphia. If you recall, The Swimmers made an album centered around a short story of a man who swims home through a series of his neighbors’ suburban swimming pools, and the entire thing is rife with the feelings of floating, or sinking, or sometimes drowning. Several songs on Asleep At Heaven’s Gate evoke that for me as well.

Much of this album strikes me immediately and viscerally. Example: the first time I listened to it, I was doing sit-ups at the gym and had to keep stopping to drum along on my solar plexus (um, gym talk) to some of these potent rhythms. And while it is not unusual for me to feel like the rhythm is gonna get me, I loved the variety on this album — they experimented with everything from drumming on walls & doors to handclaps and “ass slaps” (according to their MySpace).

The album opens with a newly-rejuvenated Pat Spurgeon machine gun rat-a-tatting his healthy-kidney insides out (he got a transplant in January) on “Harmonium,” which swirls and sounds more epic than anything they’ve done that I can recall. There’s a flow to the whole album, but some standout tracks for me are “Chicago x 12″ (which features Matthew Caws of Nada Surf), the unrelenting “Phony Town,” and the alt-country inflected album closer “Cheaper Than Therapy.”

Zach Rogue says that the band was listening to a lot of Wendy Carlos while they were writing this album — she scored movies like The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. I can hear that ambient influence on songs like the infectious “Like I Needed,” which starts out just creepily enough. “Own Your Own Home” begins with the directive to the crowd heard in the video above, and ratchets up the group-clamoring and feverish strumming to a cult-like din at the end of the song. It’s a combination of celebration & “bust out the grape Kool-Aid.” I love it.

Asleep At Heaven’s Gate is out September 18th on the fine little Brushfire Records label, and they’ll be touring in support of it this fall (some shows with none other than the fabulous Feist).

TUNES: Since I’ll be drawn and quartered if I post any of the new goodness from Rogue Wave, I’ll have to go with some of the old goodness. This is a nice little set from one of my favorite record stores, the warehouse/Mecca of Amoeba Records on Haight in San Francisco:

Live @ Amoeba Records, 1/21/06
Are You On My Side
Bird On A Wire
Sewn Up
Odorono (The Who cover)
Publish My Love
Endless Shovel
Love’s Lost Guarantee


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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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