Wideawake

Talk about pressure. You win a bunch of Austin Music Awards at 2005's South By Southwest, including Best Rock Band and Best Pop Band, as well as Best Songwriter and Male Vocalist in the form of front man Scott Leger. Shades of Bob Schneider, Batman! Yet even a casual listen to the band's Not So Far Away reveals that these Wideawake guys know what it takes to make pop records: huge, jangling guitars, great harmonies, steroidal rhythms and huge measures of that sensitive-guy factor ("If I told you my secrets / would you let me stay / would you run away / if I showed you my weakness / would you let me stay / would you run away?"). The tunes are smart and sensitive, but not in any sort of wimpy, whiney, moping sense. No, this is anthemic power-pop with great hooks, owing almost as much to Nirvana as to old-school bands like the Plimsouls, and its radio-friendliness is undeniable.
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William Michael Smith