Ah, now this is the 60s pop music throwback album that I've been searching for. Started on a somewhat auspicious note (lead man Zach Rogue was laid-off from his soul-sucking dotcom job), the foundation for Out Of The Shadow was laid down in a track that Rogue took to New York to visit a friend and lay down a few songs as sort of a way to get his mind off things. A few songs turned into many and as the release was getting closer to completion, Rogue slowly cobbled together a group of what would become tight-knit members through want ads and thus the band was born.
The 12 tracks on the disc seem remarkabley honed for a debut release, but Rogue had been honing his skills in the even poppier outfit The Desoto Reds before his cross-country journey. That said, Out Of The Shadow is a lovely little piece of songcraft. Originally self-released in small quantities by the band on their own label, the group was picked up by Sub Pop and given the remaster and repackage treatment. When I first heard this album, the first band that came to mind was The Shins, but Rogue Wave is hardly a carbon copy.
In fact, one of only things that the groups have in common is a knack for both guitar and keyboard driven tracks that have hooks galore. "Every Movement" starts off the release with building layers of guitars and sunny vocals and "Nourishment Nation" follows with chimes, acoustic guitars, punchy drumming and more vocal melodies that stick in your head (along with some off-kilter vocals). The group strips things down to guitars and vocals on "Postage Stamp World" and slowly builds things with slide guitar and minimal percussion while a slide whistle helps punctuate the lyrics that go from serious to childlike in a flash.
Even though there's a slew of great tracks on the release, it's "Sewn Up" that might be the best. Opening with soaring vocals and guitars, the track pauses with a couple slight shifts in the middle before continuing out towards the end and rambling apart. With 12 tracks that average about 3 minutes in length, Out Of The Shadow is an album that never gets stuck in a rut and contains what's easily some of the best playful indie pop that I've heard in some time. Highly recommended for fans of The Shins, New Pornographers, and others creating similar stuff.