Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blast from the Past: To See the Sun

Title:  To See the Sun (Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, Yahoo Music)
Artist:  Wakeland (MySpace, Chris Sullivan’s website)

Originally from Stillwater, OK Wakeland was an excellent power pop band in the vein of Toad the Wet Sprocket.  I first heard Wakeland when Joe Friday started playing the song “Half of You” from their debut album Wanting on Planet Underground.  Then in 1993 I saw them open for The Flaming Lips and the Chainsaw Kittens and was extremely impressed with their performance.  

To See the Sun, the band’s second album, was another great release from a band that seemed poised to become the next big thing.  Sadly for Wakeland two things conspired against them:  first the major label that they signed to, Giant, went through a major restructuring soon after they joined the roster; and second the Gin Blossoms. You see Toad the Wet Sprocket had a couple of really big hits from their 1991 album Fear in “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean” and the musical landscape was just itching for the next band that essential did what Toad did.  Wakeland should have been that band but instead those shoes were filled by the Gin Blossoms when they released New Miserable Experience in 1992 and landed hits with the songs “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” and “Until I Fall Away.”  The Gin Blossoms success, like many of that era, was limited to one album (and a couple of soundtrack appearances), so Wakeland never really stood a chance at commercial success after that.  Which is a shame because songs like “Misconstrued” from To See the Sun and “Half of You” from Wanting (it was also re-recorded for their only release on Giant, Magnetic) should have been huge hits. 

Despite the fact that Wakeland missed their big break, they did leave a back catalog of great power pop records, even if they do sound a bit dated now. 

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