Turn and Fade
Timelessness can't be manufactured. Music either cuts across the years, feeling right at home in yesteryear AND the unfolding now, or it doesn't. From the get-go Dave Gleason has crafted songs and executed them in a way that hums timelessly, country rock that'd fit in fine on a scratchy old turntable at Merle Travis house, blasting from an 8-track player in Waylon Jennings' pickup truck or serenading crowds during intermission at a Tom Petty show today. Gleason strikes down to country's hard beating heart and draws out the stuff that's made folks turn to this music for since it wandered out of the Appalachias in the 1930s. Turn and Fade coalesces into his strongest, toughest song cycle to date. Turning the guitar roar up a notch or two, Gleason muses on the things that keep us up at night and the things that keep us moving over the next horizon.
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days
On this first release by Dave Gleason's Wasted Days. Dave Gleason and group create an honest and raw mix of classic outlaw and So. Cal. country-rock music, with hints of bluegrass for good measure. A bit of Waylon, a dash of Byrds and a goodly amount of The Flying Burrito Brothers and there you have it. There are moments where Gleason lets loose with some edgy and wild guitar work here and there, but for sure this is 'pedal-steel-powered, soul-sprinkled, country-fried rock-and-roll' (Chris Baty - East Bay Express) through and through.
Just Fall to Pieces
Dave Gleason's Wasted Days are heavily influenced by the late-'60s and early-'70s country-rock of bands such as the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Byrds (that is, the incarnation of the Byrds fueled by Clarence White). And on Just Fall to Pieces, Gleason and this crew of Californians do a darn good job of approximating their ancestors. The album is rife with fiery, twangy guitar leads and bright peals of pedal steel, with a solid rock current maintaining the music's tough edge. "Train of Blue" is more traditional and steeped in the colors of Bakersfield, as once done up by Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. "Neon Rose" is an almost rockabilly-tinged attempt at honky tonk that works very well, with some solid bubbly guitar runs on the low strings. "Look at the Way You've Become" sounds eerily like a Hillman-Parsons composition from the early days of the Burrito Brothers. Gleason and the Wasted Days are very specific in their intentions, and they are strong at what they do, but this is for country-rock purists. If you've got an attachment to the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo or the Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin, then you will certainly enjoy this album.
The Byrds. Tom Petty. Dwight Yoakam. Robbie Fulks. It is in this lineage that Dave Gleason's Wasted Days lives and breaths. On their excellent though sorely overlooked 2004 release Midnight, California, the Oakland-based group carries a torch for '60s- and '70s-style outlaw country while infusing it with the spectral, chiming guitars of psychedelic rock and a hazy, coked-out California cowboy vibe. The time-tested themes of country music, mainly drinking and heartbreak, inform the bulk of the lyrical content, and the production and playing are unabashedly slick and unfettered by irony. The title track is an ode to the state itself, and to the broken-down bittersweet after-hours life to be found in the neon-lit honky tonks of the outlying counties. "Some New Someone" is a classic lost-my-girl sob story fueled by alcohol and some wonderful pedal-steel playing. And while it's hard to believe Tom Petty didn't write songs such as "Inspiration" and "Hardest Part," saying so is more a tribute to Gleason's pop songcraft than to his skill as a ripoff artist. But the highlight of the album, strangely, might be a three-minute mid-album instrumental called "The Winner" that sounds like something Brian Wilson might have written for the Flying Burrito Brothers. Don't be a surprised if one day Midnight, California is considered a country-rock classic.
Acoustic Demos - EP
Dave Gleason is known for his incredibly adroit Telecaster picking and string-bending prowess — so much that whether he’s playing honky-tonks in California’s High Desert or Music Row saloons in Nashville (where he relocated in 2010), guitar enthusiasts turn up and take notes. Gleason’s 2008 Acoustic Demos EP does not showcase his otherworldly dexterity, but it sheds a necessary light on the man’s knack for songcraft which is sometimes overshadowed by his slick fretboard skills. “Open All Night Long” is a catchy ditty that begins by musing on the kind of forgiveness that can only come from unconditional love when things get complicated between two people. The slower paced and poetic “If You’re Going Through Hell” is a boozy ballad inspired by the longhaired pioneers of outlaw country (Willie, Waylon and Kristofferson), while “What Lonely Means” and “Won’t You Please Come Home” similarly muse on solitary agony with a George Jones-inspired ache. “The Neon & the Wine” boasts clever chord changes and subtly barbed song hooks revealing a man who can contend with some of Music City’s best napkin-scribbling tunesmiths.