First hearing of Rogue Valley’s ambitious plan, I thought, “This can’t possibly be good.” Even veteran performers wouldn’t attempt it: creating four full-length albums, each based on a season, in just one year.
Miraculously, they did it. And False Floors, the fourth and final album, is surprisingly good. Brainchild of Minneapolis songster Chris Koza, Rogue Valley blends indie roots with orchestral-folk, sounding like the offspring of Hem and Death Cab for Cutie. Not every tune on the album is strong—the poppy “Blueprints” and “Onward and Over” feel a little flat. But others, like the pensive “Icebox” and the violin-and-guitar laden waltz “Dangerous Diamonds,” are fantastic, begging for multiple listens.
Rogue Valley explores the vagaries of being human and alive in the world: “Is life something to capture? If you contain it, are you the master?” Koza wonders in “Hunters and Trappers,” playing tactfully with ambiguity and innuendo. But this questioning isn’t unique amongst indie bands. Where Rogue shines is in its downright poetic lyrics. The winter album is rife with nature: stars, snowy owls, icicles, grizzlies, Orion, northern lights, frozen lakes, the sea—a cinematic winterscape into which the listener wanders and gladly becomes lost.
Rogue Valley plays the Top Hat Friday, Jan. 20, at 10 PM with Butter. $5.