Friday, July 6, 2007

Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears

Here's one that was released officially in October 2006 on Black and Greene Records and got very slight attention, delayed at that (always one to follow the crowd, eh?). It's a simultaneously kitschy and sophisticated mess of glam pop, on one hand like listening to David Bowie cover “See Emily Play,” on the other like listening to “Evil Woman” over and over again (not everyone loves ELO like Steve Jones, I'm sure, though if this is your thing, The Shredding Tears is a big, flamboyant blast). Bryan Scary, a New Yorker with a bigger is better sound and feel, is one of those artists whose sound stimulates the imagination and brings to mind a complementary appearance. In your mind, he may be goth or glam, a master of puppets or a childlike imitation, a great grand rock star or a na├»ve 23-year old indie kid playing pretend in his living room. To me, he is all of these, and he aims to be bigger and better because he doesn't want to believe that there's a limit to what he can do with music, nor does he want to take part in the generation that aims to get mileage while setting its own creative limit.

In an interview with 3 Quarks Daily
, Scary noted that a lot of his favorite music is much older than he is, making him unable to imagine or recreate the complete experiences of older rock styles like prog or psych because he never got to witness the performance aspect of them. He said he listens to music “with the mindset of wanting to know about what was going on around it, historically,” and this said, it's clear from his resulting album that Scary really seems to have a fascination with the grand idea of performance that is more or less lacking from today's minimalist indie scene, where anyone with a guitar can be called a musician. The closest thing we've got right now to a bona fide rock star with a stage personality and mysterious vibe is perhaps Jack White, but even the White Stripes aren't big on putting on the gigantic, highly involved production of a show that I imagine happened thirty-five years ago (like Scary, I'm also under 25 and don't know the magic of a grand rock production). Bryan Scary seems to have the title of “rock star” in mind, and while we 20-somethings don't have a Marc Bolan, Freddie Mercury or David Bowie to play the role of larger-than-life star – as opposed to larger-than-life celebrity, of which there is an abundance – we can watch musicians like Scary and his Shredding Tears act out their fantasy of filling that role.

“The Up and Over Stairwell” bring to mind the Beatles' more theatrical moments or a more experimental version of “Killer Queen,” while the inviting “Operaland” also brings to mind Lennon-led late Beatles; “The Blood Club” has a sort of slinky feel to it that reminds me of a rock-opera “Minnie the Moocher,” for some reason. There's even a token “ballad” (“Desdemona's Leaving Town”) and a load of storytelling from the fabulous second person perspective. If there's anything awkward about Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears, it's that Scary's voice tends to hover somewhere between Ted Leo and John Lennon in what varies from a high nasal wail to a gentle plea. But it works with the music, which is equally as dramatic, and begs to be let out in front of a red velvet curtain. May artists like this signal the end of bland indie pop.

Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears - Misery Loves Company
Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears - Desdemona's Leaving Town
Purchase The Shredding Tears


Stephen said...

China, the Aquabats have been "performing" for the past thirteen years.

China said...

Ohhhhhhh blarrgghhhh. No band wearing tights and goggles...nevermind.