King Dream is a Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll band helmed by Oakland native Jeremy Lyon, a lifelong songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who crafts dive bar anthems with heart, brains and soul. Hard-rocking yet poignant, his music combines a love for American rock masters like Springsteen and Petty with ‘60s West Coast psychedelia and more contemporary torch-bearers like My Morning Jacket and The War on Drugs — all brought to life by a band of Northern California’s most in-demand players.
Lyon has played Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, toured nationally and internationally, and also knows what it’s like to busk on the street. King Dream songs deftly balance hope and world-weariness. They seem wise beyond their years, and they also have a way of sneaking up on you. Their shout-along choruses and searing guitar solos are at home in a darkened saloon, to be sure, but also — you know the giddy, ragged vulnerability that arrives when you’ve been awake for way too long on a road trip? Between the good times and the clinks of beer bottles these songs inspire a wistfulness, deep in your bones, for a place you’ve never been.
Glory Daze is King Dream’s first full-length since the band’s 2018 self-titled debut, and it represents a massive leap forward. Ambitious in scale and scope, it clocks in at 24 tracks, divided into three parts. Technically, these songs are a record of Lyon not only maturing as a lyricist and musician — experimenting with different production styles, moving easily between fist-pumping anthems and ballads and electronic and R&B-influenced sounds — but also developing into a self-sufficient producer and engineer, a silver lining to the constraints of the pandemic.
But Glory Daze is also unmistakably a full-band effort, and its sound also reflects the group’s confidence and cohesion: What began as a studio band is now a tight-knit collective with decades of experience between them, including Adam Nash (guitar) and Nick Cobbett (drums), as well as Zak Mandel-Romann (bass), a close musical collaborator of Lyon’s since high school.
Narratively, Glory Daze traverses vast territory: a period in which Lyon separated from, reconciled with, and married his now-wife (Caitlin Gowdey, Rainbow Girls, who appears on several tracks and plays keys live with King Dream when she can); toured and recorded as a sideman with a slew of Bay Area artists (Whiskerman, the Stone Foxes, M. Lockwood Porter); dealt with the grief, anxiety and loss of community wrought by a pandemic and years of sociopolitical turmoil; and careened into his 30s with a healthy dose of reflection, self-doubt and, ultimately, an audible sense of confidence and satisfaction. The result is an expansive, multifaceted album that invites the listener to climb in, lean back, and trust that getting there’s at least half the fun.
“I make driving records,” says Lyon. “And this one’s about an hour-forty long, so I hope you’re going somewhere far.”