Whiskey & Romances
Burning Daylight's Nick Young was making a right turn on his way to work when it hit him from out of nowhere; a fleeting fragment of melody flickered in his head. Young knew what he had to do: get it down quick, or it'd be gone. When he arrived at work, he made a beeline for the office and made the call. On Burning Daylight's debut record,Whiskey and Romances, some of the tracks were handled in this frenzied fashion; the songs themselves dictating just when --- and where --- they were good and ready to be written. 'I rarely just sit down with a guitar to write a song,' Young says. 'If I ever do it just doesn't happen.' He usually keeps a little tape recorder handy, or in some cases demos the idea on his answering machine. 'Two or three songs on the new record are voicemail ones,' he says. Phoned in or not, the 12 songs included on Whiskey and Romances are simply beautiful. The sound is stripped-down Americana and lush pop. And though Young leans heavy on his love of the alt-country medium, his penchant for melody and hooks takes away some of the requisite melancholy. The trio twangs tight, riffs rural, and swings sweet, with equal doses of straight time and chops, thus adding to the band's overall accessibility and appeal. You'll hear the Earle, but the Costello is in there, too. 'I think we're just as much power-pop as we are alt-country,' Young says. 'I'm hugely impressed by the art of the perfect pop song.' This power-pop/alt-country shotgun wedding was captured and produced by The Push Stars' bassist Dan McLoughlin. McLoughlin played bass, guitar, and organ, and recorded everything except the rhythm tracks at his home studio in Hoboken. Young figures, start to finish, the album took six days to make. Burning Daylight --- Young, drummer Jesse Sprinkle, bassist Tim Mroz --- has been burning daylight since 2004. It was Young's dad's Gram Parsons records that got the young man headed in this direction. And The Byrds. 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo was a big influence on me,' he says. But after seeing and hearing bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and especially The Old 97s, that's all she wrote. This was where he needed to be. This would be his sound; pop music hooks with genuine country as a vehicle. And like so many alt-country purveyors and disciples, Young is quick to disassociate with --- and make it abundantly clear his dissatisfaction with --- mainstream country. 'I just don't believe it, I suppose,' he says. 'It just doesn't hit me the same way. It doesn't hit you in the gut. It's formulaic and calculated.' But like punk's mid-'70s rise and revolt against corporate rock's bland bloat, alt-country is reactionary and probably wouldn't have been born were it not for country music getting watered down in the first place. Bands like Burning Daylight and it's influences may never have come to be. So you can actually thank guys like Billy Ray Cyrus for making bands like Burning Daylight necessary. Bands that are genuine, sincere. 'There's conviction in what we do,' Young says. 'There's sincerity behind it. We mean it. We're not just up there trying to impress our girlfriends.' -Frank DeBlase.