Read any autobiography of any rock giant who once pranced in and out of Sunset Strip’s Whisky A-Go-Go or The Roxy and what will you find? Aside from a ludicrous altitude of depicted decadence, you won’t need your specs to find the sheer volume of recounted musical resolve, ambition and ‘whatever it takes’ inclinations. Not only does such a spirit reach out and grab you firmly by the throat from within the confines of notable rock star typography, but this ethos is heard – no, felt – in every Strip-made sound wave that reverberates between your ears. Appetite For Destruction, Too Fast For Love, Van Halen – all borne of a determination to live with and die for music. Fast forward more years than some may care to admit and the wild fires of the Strip Age appear to have died to no more than an ember. Enter stage right Tyler Bryant and his rock’n’roll commodores The Shakedown. Although a far cry geographically from the Strip, Tennessee-rooted Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown are knee-deep in the sign-your-soul-away kind of rock’n’roll that today’s scene so dearly misses. Freshly signed to newly-spawned Snakefarm Records, TBSD are soon to land with self-titled second LP album, which inhabits an insistent proclamation that they “don’t mind the blood if it gets the job done.” And boy, does it get done.
Opener “Heartland” is punchy, recalcitrant and gritty, yet exudes the warmth of music-borne community. There aren’t many contemporary rock bands that haven’t musically spat into the spittoon of distaste at the world’s current climate, and this is TBSD’s venom-riddled ejection – “all hail to the rich man, leaving bread crumbs to cold hands.” Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown is laden with defiance and grunge-laced vengeance, as found in “Backfire” and “Easy Target”. If a Clint Eastwood sneer was translated from spoken word into rock music, you’d find yourself with TBSD’s “Easy Target”: rugged, taunting and indelible.
With lyrical hooks that only take a single listen before they’ve firmly slithered into the nooks of the auditory cortex, TBSD have produced a highly infectious album. Housing a gen-u-ine Brad Whitford hatchling in the form of guitarist Graham Whitford, TBSD have musical epigenetics on their side, as evident in the Aerosmith echoes of “Weak and Weepin’”, a track which runs like the wind and oozes sleaze blues swagger. Firmly rooted in the blues since the age of 11, Bryant makes room for some blues peacocking in “Ramblin’ Bones”. Earthy and tinged with the warm tones of bourbon, “Ramblin’ Bones” is a stunning creation characterised by crisp, crystal clear production. Although perched firmly in a nest of hard rock’n’roll, TBSD flirt with more tender melodies in “Magnetic Field” and “Into The Black”, in which they master expansive atmospheres as created by the likes of Opeth in “Coil” or Alter Bridge in “Fortress”.
There’s currently no room to swing a cat in music press without colliding with rock’n’roll giants’ mini-mes TBSD, and for excellent reason. Having shadowed Guns’n’Roses, AC/DC and the late, (very) great Tom Petty over their extensive performing career, it’s no wonder that TBSD have summoned an album fit to excite those longing to return to the Days of Glory along Sunset Boulevard. It’s a long way to the top, but TBSD may have just reached the summit.