In '99, the music industry took a major hit. Sales/earnings dropped for the first time in over 15 years (since shortly after the advent of the compact disc). A long, painful decline ensued. Miserable as it was, for some that would have been preferable to the sudden and brutal dot.com bust just a year later.
The notion that all things seemed possible and that any crazy idea could make a fortune online was impossible to resist. IPO's were landing like summer rain as paper millionaires passed on words of wisdom to the up-and-coming. Then it all crashed. Values evaporated just like the moisture from those summer storms. Gone. Businesses, especially virtual ones, closed down. The party was over. But what a party!
Many who suffered through the implosion went on to get "real jobs" for companies that produced real products - things people actually wanted or needed. Where's the fun in that?
Oakland resident Zach Schwartz (later Zach Rogue) had another idea. After losing his dot.com job the vocalist/guitarist founded Rogue Wave (some people never learn) with Pat Spurgeon (drums, samples, guitar, vocals), Gram Lebron (keyboards, guitar, drums, vocals) and Sonya Westcott (bass). Farrell replaced Westcott in '04 with Patrick Abernethy taking over in '07.
"Out Of The Shadow," the group's debut, was privately released in '03 and re-released a year later. It was followed by '05's "Descended Like Vultures" and ''07's "Asleep At Heaven's Gate." But like a lot of bands, Rogue Wave owed a chunk of their exposure to TV, rather than radio, video clips or online.
FOX's long running hit The O.C. used "Publish My Love," "California" (both from "Descended Like Vultures") and "Interruptions." "Publish My Love" also landed on "The O.C. Mix 5," a collection of songs heard on the show. "Debaser" was on "Mix 6." "Eyes" got a lot of TV exposure getting played in two episodes of NBC's Heroes and Friday Night Lights. "Kicking The Heart Out" showed up on Showtime's Weeds. Nip/Tuck featured "California."
That's not a bad TV resume but Rogue Wave wasn't done. Their songs were played in the films Just Friends ("Eyes" again) and "Stubbs: The Zombie Soundtrack" (a cover of Buddy Holly's classic "Everyday"). The "Napoleon Dynamite" soundtrack had a live version of "Every Moment" (from "Out Of The Shadow") that was not used in the film. But what probably earned them the most notoriety was the ubiquitous '07 use of "Lake Michigan" in an ad for Microsoft's MP3 player Zune.
With each effort, Rogue Wave has kicked up the energy moving from the background to foreground. Zach Rogue has always had a knack for melody and on "Asleep At Heaven's Gate" he takes that talent and puts some kick behind it on the easy-flowing "Like I Needed" and the more strident "Phonytown." "Lake Michigan" with its Dylan-pop and catchy percussion is the standout track.
Several songs on "Asleep At Heaven's Gate" are reminiscent of previous efforts - intimate acoustic numbers sounding like they are being played by someone sitting on the edge of their bed. That casual informality won the group a number of fans but a little of that goes a long way. Rather, check out "Publish My Love," "Love's Lost Guarantee" and "10:1" from "Descended Like Vultures" and the jaunty "Kicking The Heart Out" from "Out Of The Shadow."