Looking in from the outside, it’s easy to be skeptical of Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. The young Nashville based band seemingly came from nowhere, bagged a record deal and toured the world supporting AC/DC and Guns n’ Roses in arenas, after just one, low key album release. A dream for any young band, but not every young band can get that kind of breaks. It takes more than having a guitar prodigy fronting your band and the son of Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford backing him up on rhythm guitar to bag the sort of tours these guys have been getting on…doesn’t it?
When you are lauded by the likes of BB King and Jeff Beck it must be hard to keep your head out of the clouds, but Tyler Bryant and his band have kept grounded and paid their dues like any other rock ‘n’ roll band, through sheer hard work and determination to put on the best show they can.
Fair play, it turns out these guys got those tours on their live performance alone and not on who they know. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown have paid their dues in the clubs and if you have been lucky enough to catch them live, you will know you can’t fake that sort of energy, or stage that quality of performance.
But to stay alive in this musical climate, being a great live band is not enough, you’ve got to have something special to keep people’s attention and you have to have the songs to back it up.
Which brings us to Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown’s third full-length album ‘Truth And Lies’. Recorded in Williamsburg, NY by producer Joel Hamilton (The Black Keys, Tom Waits), ‘Truth And Lies’ is a heady mix of 80’s and 90’s bluesy hard rock, following the same stadium-sized path as its self-titled predecessor.
But for me, the band have never captured the energy of their live show, and on record, they come across as a country-tinged Bon Jovi, and funnily enough if you had told me this was the lost album between ‘These Days’ and ‘Crush’ I would surely believe you!
Yes, back in the mid 90’s when rock music was a bit edgy and bands were taking risks, ‘Truth and Lies’ would have fitted in just nicely. It has a grungy feel to a lot of the straight out rockers. For example, album opener ‘Shock & Awe’ rides on a sludgy, Jerry Cantrell like riff and a stadium-sized chorus that fits the bill. It’s a great track that sets the scene. The trouble is, that scene is a little bit staid and a whole bit generic.
The rockier tunes are solid enough but don’t really grab the attention. The likes of ‘On To The Next’, ‘Eye To Eye’ and ‘Panic Button’ are blues-rock by numbers and not particularly inspiring or memorable. The annoying thing is, I know these tunes will absolutely crush when they play them live.
For me, this band truly shine when they take things down a notch. The heartfelt ‘Out There’ with its lone, finger-picked acoustic guitar and sentimental lyricism is a beautiful piece of music. With Eastern vibes and a sense of yearning, this is a top track that hits the spot. And ‘Judgement Day’ is the piece de resistance of ‘Truth and Lies’. Drummer Caleb’s simple beats and the haunting effects back up Tyler’s raspy vocal, his lone, finger-picked acoustic guitar complimenting just perfectly. A sweet, slide solo and swampy vibes make this a stand out track.
You could say The Shakedown are at their best when they are just kicking back and playing the blues. The southern rock vibes of ‘Trouble’ sit well and ‘The Ride’ is a ZZ Top inspired piece of blues-rock that flows along nicely. A jaw-dropping, yet understated piece of soloing from the frontman makes this a bit of a showstopper.
I get the sense that this album is make or break for Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. They are young, hungry and they look the part, as with their previous albums, their fan base will adore ‘Truth and Lies’ and I’m sure it’ll gain them plenty more. But, I don’t think they really have the songs and that’s what counts above all else.
Already the competition is high for album releases this year, and for me ‘Truth & Lies’ is an average album from a truly exceptional live band.
Buy Truth And Lies Here
Author: Ben Hughes