CD Review: Miles of Roads (2023) by The Waydown Wailers
Reviewed by: John Berbrich
I’ll start by stating the obvious: You need to buy a copy of the Waydown Wailers latest CD, Miles of Roads, just released by Subcat Records! It’s the real complete thing. The songs are excellent, the recording clear, and the artwork is fun and evocative.
The band is solid, with Dave Parker on guitar and vocals, Christian Parker on B-bender guitar, Joe Thomas on keys, guitar and vocals, Mike Scriminger on drums, and Connor Pelkey on bass guitar. This is an awesome blues-rock quintet. They rock, they cruise, they party.
I love the photos. On the front slipcase cover, two motorcycles are heading away from the camera on a remote country road. Each rider wears a black leather jacket with a Waydown Wailers logo on the back. The back cover is a photo of drummer Mike Scriminger facing the camera, his thumb out—wearing a black leather jacket over a black T-shirt, bearing a Waydown Wailers logo across the chest—hitchhiking on an equally remote country road. Would you give this man ride? I would.
The CD consists of ten songs, meticulously recorded at Subcat Studios in Syracuse, where local notables Tas Cru and Jess Novak have also recorded. Anyway, on to the music!
Of the ten songs, Joe Thomas wrote five and Dave Parker wrote four; the pair collaborated on “Cross the Line,” the funkiest shuffle on the album. My favorite Joe Thomas song would be “The Sentinel,” which begins with a cool, jazzy vibe, and builds into a moderate rock crescendo. “Firefall” tells the curious and crazy story of a supposedly haunted bit of ground located in northern New York—a place where “People disappear without a trace”—and features Parker on what sounds like a talk-box guitar; well, maybe it’s not such a crazy story. In the title track, “Miles of Roads,” the singer gets some advice from his Dad and off he goes on his own adventure, experiencing life on all kinds of roads. “Separate Roads” is heavy and features Parker on piercing wah-wah guitar and Thomas on oceanic organ. “Common Ground” has nothing to do with driving around, but it has an open, rolling-down-the-highway quality that I find refreshing, the sort of song you’d like to listen to while cruising hilly back-country roads in good weather.
The Dave Parker songs are gutsy, rugged, and feature Dave’s alternately rough and sweet voice. “Motor Scooter” is all guitars and stomping drums. “Black Cat Swamp,” struts its swampy guitar, a sound this band excels at. In “Be American,” Parker asks what it means to be an American. This is my favorite song on the CD right now—it’s been in my head for days—and includes great interplay between guitar and organ. It’s a serious question, and Parker confronts it head-on. The album closes with “On Her Own,” the sad story of a young girl, driven by poignant guitar and somber piano.
This is such a well-balanced album. The band can rock and they can play with restraint. I’ve barely mentioned Christian Parker, Mike Scriminger, or Connor Pelkey. These guys provide solid support for Parker and Thomas, the fellows up front. They never miss a beat and always pull back during the quiet parts and help to build the climaxes.
Anyway, this could be their best album. Give it a listen and help to support this fine local band!