Leaving Rouge may be one of the most interesting bands you’ll hear about in the next few months. Their sprawling soundscapes, rich textures and crafted atmospherics have gained them a great deal of attention from both the indie press and college radio.
Formed initially as a studio project between vocalist Sean Hoen and drummer Josh Machniak, the duo released the acclaimed Collected Songs in 2002. Their desire to take the band to the next level culminated with the addition of two new members, bassist John Vogel and pianist/vocalist Karl Buzewski.
Now a full-fledged band, Leaving Rouge’s new EP, White Houses, witnesses the Detroit foursome making the remarkable leap from being a new band with unlimited potential to a solid band with a polished understanding of where they want to be. “Lion’s Bridge” opens the record with sprawling guitars that build and expand into Hoen’s vocals. “In Your Twilight” is a majestic number that merges swirling guitars with tightly fitting guitars. Hoen’s vocals at times have an almost Disintegration-era Cure feel to them. Fortunately, the song grinds on, rolls up its sleeves and becomes grittier. “Like Rome” is the real treasure here. It takes a barren and desolate intro and zips into it with driving electric guitars that are slipped nicely between some piano and percussion. Then the vocals kick in and roll around in the melody, creating a grimy, perfect amalgamation of indie noise and pop fragility. Leaving Rouge channels all of their starkness, releasing it in one shot with the closing epic “Raise Your Love.” “Raise Your Love” sounds like the best moments of the Red House Painters mixed with the guitars and atmosphere of Galaxie 500.
Leaving Rouge adeptly twist atmospheric melodies and distorted guitars into a cocoon full of Hoen’s richly descriptive vocals. Sonically, they rise, fall, twist, contort, spiral and contract with breathtakingly perfect symmetry. White Houses is an auspicious, well-constructed introduction to a terrific band with nothing but open road ahead of them.