Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Here it is one of the first days of 2012, early January, as it's easy to confirm and today's one of those odd times when you're counting your lucky stars that temperatures are in the 40s, if only because it's so improbable. None of us, living in this state, in what's supposedly the dead of winter, should be so backwards to be trying to block the pestering and bright sunlight from beaming into us too stiffly. We should be holding our arms open for that warm embrace. We should be unable to get enough of whatever it wants to give us, in small amounts or bulldozer-shovel-sized dollops. All of the pins, sticking out of the holes on the golf courses should have been pulled long ago, but there they are, tempting and obstinate, coaxing out those extra rounds that the sportsmen couldn't have seen coming when the northern winds started to kick in there in late November, right when they're supposed to. You can make yourself feel like a goddamned blasphemer when the days are like this, when you're supposed to be in the cold grip of the witchy season, but we think that perhaps we might be more in control that we thought we were. We think that we know why this is happening to us right now, why these days are so mild and acceptable. We've been intensely listening to Zach Rogue's newest project, Release The Sunbird, and there's no doubt that it's done something.
The Rogue Wave frontman, with some extra down time on his hands following his Bay Area group's last album cycle and touring, dived into some of his favorite subjects of the difficulties of the heart and mostly of the limbs, the legs, the eyes and the mouth, and then peeled off another layer or two of skin from them. He somehow made them feel rawer and more vulnerable. His thoughts, on the album, "Come Back To Us," still feel as if they've had time to snooze half the day away in the traveling warm spot on the carpet, but they've got harsher and colder underpinnings that you can't quite place, other than believing that they've come from somewhere chillier. They've traveled by that northern wind and wound up where you least expected them and they've coated the place with a faux heat. It's misplaced and yet, it feels and is just like the real thing, so you let it strike your face and your arms like a glutton would let it. You aren't partial only to the sun that comes when you expect it, but you'll take the masquerading stuff as well, the stuff that maybe feels hot because it's more acidic than healthy.
The Release The Sunbird songs that Rogue wrote are full of lonesomeness and struggle, but there's hopefulness in there as well. He sings, "I will walk again," perhaps still a cruel reminder of some debilitating back problems he had just a few years ago, and we hear the sentiment as uplifting, but similarly as something that no one's quite sure of. Why don't we just wait and see. We've seen him up and at them, but we think that there might be another "average mess" out there that's being referred to here. Perhaps, a sunnier day is needed.