Even if his name doesn't ring a bell, Rick Bauer's towering frame should be easily recognizable to savvy Broward nightlifers. The six-foot-two Bauer and his band regularly play drinking holes from Himmarshee to Pompano Beach, digging into a massive trick bag for bar-rocking covers and late-night sing-alongs. With Daybreak, Bauer reveals the songwriter simmering beneath the faithful rock renditionist, one as influenced by Tom Petty and the Cars as Radiohead and Faith No More. The band has a strong ear for dynamics and weight: slower numbers like the strummy, coffeeshop pop ballad "Dry" or sultry, horn-and-keys-inflected psyche of "Borrow" get heavy without plodding, while hard-edged stomps like "Shame" and "Pave Me Ground" raise the pulse through nimble changes, not pure volume. While some songs suffer from busy overproduction, most employ subtle electronic tweaks that add intrigue. Album opener "Eyeopener" is the perfect example; perhaps the tightest production on the album, it still includes flourishes throughout. For a guy who's an old pro in the live setting, Bauer is also surprisingly facile in the studio. If you're a fan of lyrically driven music, this probably isn't your bag -- the words tend toward the throwaway. But Bauer's knack for tailoring classic-leaning alt-rock tunes unconcerned with market trends is impressive, and the heart he puts into the music is tangible.
The Rick Bauer Band celebrates the release of Daybreak at 9 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at Cheers, 945 E. Cypress Creek Rd., Fort Lauderdale. The show is free. Call 954-771-6337.