This Oakland quartet derives their name from singer/songwriter/guitarist Zach Rogue and their sophomore effort offers quirky pop tunes from the Elephant 6 school of musical composition as established nearly a decade ago by the likes of Apples In Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal and Olivia Tremor Control and all of these influences make guest appearances throughout. ?Bird On A Wire? (not the Leonard Cohen classic) hides a fairly decent, swaying pop tune under a grab bag of effects and ?Publish My Love? rides Rogue?s not unpleasant vocals for an earcatching winner that could be a radio favorite with the CMJ crowd and will have Matthew Sweet fans sitting up and taking notice. The rudimentary acoustic strummer ?Salesman at the Day of the Parade? is a pleasant, confessional weeper that Morrissey should check out immediately.
Rogue?s multi-tracked vocals and wall of sound production (with Bill Racine) infects ?Catform? with a festive, Jeff Lynne vibe and Gene Park?s ELO-sih viola adds a nice touch. ?Love?s Lost Guarantee? could be a great pop song, with its catchy chorus and elaborate production values if is wasn?t so disjointed and syncopated. I think the band made the wrong decision to try and turn a simple three minute pop song into an overextended suite that moves in too many directions with too many key changes and false starts. The K.I.S.S. acronym (Keep It Simple, Stupid?) would have worked wodners here.
I have no such qualms with the spirited, hard-driving, unashamedly Guided By Voices ripoff ?10:1,? right down to drummer Pat Spurgeon?s wackily inebriated Christmas bells-and-chimes coda! Paul Simon channeled through John Darnielle?s Mountain Goats seeps into the intimate, acoustic ballad ?California,? which aside from Aerielle Levy?s exquisite cello embellishment is essentially a Rogue solo effort more in tune with last year?s ?Out of the Shadow? debut. The wonderful exercise in orchestrated pop, ?Are You On My Side,? reminds me of the warm and fuzzy glow I get listening to my old Witch Hazel Sound and High Llamas records. Props to Rogue?s casio and guitarist Gram Lebron?s wurlitzer and vibraphone flourishes that ultimately had me imagining Brian Wilson scoring a new arrangement for Led Zeppelin?s ?Gallows Pole.?
Rogue is obviously a very talented individual with a seemingly unending supply of musical ideas, many of which are expressed throughout this release. If I had any suggestions for him and his fellow Wavers, it would be to try and narrow down their focus for a more disciplined, linear release that their fans could get comfortable with and leave the kitchen sinks to the plummers. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (27 June, 2006)