CD Review of The Sweet Bye and Bye by WAZ
Recommended if you like
Pete Yorn, Cary Brothers, the Wallflowers
Label
(self-released)
WAZ: The Sweet Bye and Bye

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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T
ouring with an artist for a few years has a tendency to rub off on band members. Such is the case with WAZ, who toured as part of Pete Yorn’s band for a few years and is now promoting his solo career in earnest. WAZ’s first full-length album, The Sweet Bye and Bye, has a lot of Yorn flavors in its melodies and arrangements, but that’s just a reference point; WAZ has his own voice -- and some pretty amazing songs. The Cleveland native has been living in California for the better part of a decade now, and calling his music breezy California alt-pop is certainly no stretch.

“Hardly Enough” kicks things off, breezy with nicely placed guitar and piano parts, and then “Home” follows that up as a song with a pretty, harmony-drenched chorus. “Mine to Remember” is a holdover from WAZ’s EP from a few years back, and it’s the same strong version. “Why Can’t We” is a bit of a departure here, up-tempo and the kind of song you know his band has fun playing live. But WAZ is best suited for slow, moody ballads, and on “Maria” and “Release,” he absolutely shines. Lastly, there is “Holding On,” a steady, pulsing number with screaming Neil Young-influenced guitars, somehow a nice counterpoint to WAZ’s pop hooks.

Some albums take little or no effort to like. The Sweet Bye and Bye is not only one of those releases, it’s the kind of album that may just have major label execs wondering where the hell he’s been all their lives. Then again, maybe not, because that would be giving the record industry as it currently exists too much credit. Instead, just enjoy WAZ and this gem of mainstream bliss, because music like this doesn’t come around too often.

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