Release the Sunbird Soundboard

When: Sat., Aug. 27, 7 p.m. 2011

It may be one of the oldest tricks in the pop toolbox, but there's still something fundamentally sneaky about using gorgeous orchestration and pretty melodies to make lyrics full of pain and bitterness go down easy. Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave recorded Come Back to Us (Brushfire)—the debut full-length of his new solo project, Release the Sunbird—on a whim in Bloomington, Indiana, last year, though it sounds as much like California as indie pop can. More intimate than recent Rogue Wave releases, it has a romantic, earnest surface that makes it perfectly suitable as background music—you might not even notice how much death, addiction, terror, and grief there is in Rogue's smooth-voiced presentation (well, assuming that whatever you're multitasking on is pretty damn absorbing). But whether it's passive-aggressive or not, Come Back to Us is a haunting, beautiful record that perversely makes me hope Rogue has more baggage to get out of his system. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $14

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