Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, selected by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “College” by Rogue Wave from the 2013 album Nightingale Floors on Vagrant.
Formed in 2002 when singer/guitarist Zach Schwartz (usually credited as “Zach Rogue”) lost his job in the dot-com bubble burst, Rogue Wave’s shifting brand of indie rock incorporates elements of lo-fi, folk, and psych into their pop-infused melodies. Schwartz wrote the band’s first album, 2004’s Out of the Shadow, on a trip to New York in the wake of his unemployment, then recruited a band in his native Oakland, California to finish out the recordings. Not long after, they were signed to Sub Pop and touring with a then-ascending Shins. Since then, the band has released another three albums, toured the world a few times over, and served as a plot device for a Jennifer Aniston rom-com. (Seriously.) Now consisting of Schwartz and drummer Pat Surgeon (along with touring members), the group’s fifth album, Nightingale Floors, was recorded in California with John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Walkmen), and marks their first effort for Vagrant Record.s Like the montage to an undergraduate weekend road trip, “College” is bright-yet-bittersweet. Written after the death of Schwartz’ father, the introspective track’s themes belie the song’s harmonious propulsion. “I can’t find myself… I can’t find my way”, sings Schwartz in the song’s breakdown, before breaking out into one final triumphant chorus. “College” is a testament to the power of the heart over the head; that knowledge sometimes can’t produce contentment, where life experiences and optimism can.
In support of Nightingale Floors, Rogue Wave are playing Neumos on July 17th with fellow SOTD-faves Papa. Get tickets and info about that show here, and keep up with the band on their website and Facebook. Watch the band play their single “Lake Michigan” live in 2008 below.