Rayland Baxter “Wide Awake”
The background to this album is interesting as it appears that Rayland basically locked himself away in an old rubber band factory to write it. This isolation allowed his creative juices to flow and resulted in the tracks featuring on this release. However, what really brought this album to our attention was the reference to Butch Walker as producer. Now Butch is one of our favourite artists of all time but he also has a Midas touch of working with great acts.
There are indeed some similarities between some of the songs on this album and some of Butch’s own work. In particular tracks like “Strange American Dream” “Hey Larocco” and “Everything To Me” could be him at his most pop and less rocking. They share that same use of huge pop melodies with wry and clever lyrics.
However, Rayland’s output is perhaps far more in the more expansive power pop territory on songs like “79 Shiny Revolvers” and “Amelia Baxter”. These follow the style of a lineage of power pop bands starting through with the Beatles and working their way through acts like ELO and Jellyfish.
This album is also kept really interesting by throwing in a few other influences along the way. “Casanova” is a particular favourite of ours. It’s like Beck at his most commercial and pop (or you could say just like his whole recent release, Colors). Together with “Angeline” and “Sandra Monica” you sense these are the ones that could have big commercial success. Whilst “Without Me” and “Let It All Go, Man” are exquisite and heartfelt ballads that should be picked up for the emotional centrepiece in a movie.
This is a big, modern adult pop album. It’s not the shtick type middle of the road pop rock that too often gets picked up by main stream radio. Instead this is pop music that has been carefully crafted by a songwriter rather than mass produced by a record label. It also happens to be the perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous sunny weather we’ve been blessed with in the UK over the last couple weeks so that’s a double win!