[23 February 2010]
Sometimes you just have to hear an album because it has a great title. Wakey!Wakey!‘s album Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You… is one of those albums. That title has just the right amount of regret and pathos to be intriguing and utterly human; there is nobody on this earth who hasn’t had a list of things they should have said at one point.
As it turns out, the music on the album isn’t half bad either. Mike Grubbs is the driving force behind Wakey!Wakey!, and observant fans might recognize his name as the man behind “Grubbs” on the CW’s One Tree Hill. Perhaps not coincidentally, his first full-length album sounds like a collection of songs that could well make decent background music for a drama aimed at a young demographic. Almost Everything… is a piano pop-rock album, much in the vein of the Fray with lots of violins and guitars to go around but aimed just outside the top-40 bull’s-eye.
The opener and title track is a beautiful, propulsive bit of catharsis, while “Dance so Good” is a lovely bit of Billy Joel balladry. For every memorable track, however, another track drags along, lying dead under the weight of its own aspirations. “The Oh Song” tries so hard to be grimy with its fuzz bass and its big drums, but it sounds like a striped polo shirt with a splash of mud; “War Sweater” combats religious zealotry with joylessness and repetition. There’s enough potential here to be excited about Grubbs’ musical future; perhaps it’ll take separation from or the cancellation of the television show he’s so closely identified with to realize it.