Rising Star: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

From the Sandcastle

Get ready to clear a path through today’s sludge of auto-tuned vocals and repetitive
refrains. There’s an emerging guitar god in our midst, and it’s just a matter of time before he
flips the rock ‘n roll switch back on after many eager listeners have spent years floundering in
the dark.

And who is this figurehead for the return of rock? None other than 21-year-old guitarist
Tyler Bryant of Honey Grove, TX, a rising star who thus far is shouldering the weight of
admittedly vast expectations quite well. Bryant is young, driven, and has an ear for the types of
gut-wrenching riffs that will resonate with classic rock worshipers. Already a maestro of the solo
in his own right, Bryant shows immense promise as a budding musician; we could very well be
bearing witness to one of the greats in the making.

Last September, Bryant and his band released their debut album “From the Sandcastle”
under the name Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. The album boasts only seven songs, but
the short track list was perhaps a wise idea: not a single one of the songs is a dud. Bryant and
his bandmates Graham Whitford (guitar), Caleb Crosby (drums), and recent former member
Calvin Webster (bass) power through the tracks with admirable skill and ease. At certain
moments in fast-tempo tracks like album opener “Kick the Habit” and “Kickin,” it sounds
like the instruments might leap from their owners’ grips at any minute and dash away, yet the
Shakedown retain a level of control and mastery over their music that is admirable for a band
with their experience level. Six of the seven songs gracefully mix bluesy chord progressions
together under the broader rock banner, with “House that Jack Built” and “Shackles” existing
as the two rougher tracks that will make any blues purist groan in delight. Meanwhile, the
lone ballad on the album shows that Bryant has a softer side, a yin to his wilder rock ‘n roll
yang. “Being Here” reels the group in to a much slower tempo, allowing Bryant to experiment
with his vocal range over the plucking of an acoustic guitar and demonstrate his evolving skill as
a songwriter at the same time.

With that said, “From the Sandcastle” is the group’s first and only album to date.
It is an impressive debut album, fraught with immense talent and promise, but it begs the
question of sustainability. Will this “guitar prodigy” (as Bryant is dubbed on his band’s website)
continue to lead his band down the golden path to stardom, earning reputations as respectable
rockers carving their own initials into rock ‘n roll’s long and fragmented history? Or will some
ill-fated decision or event derail them while they are on the brink of success? Too many artists
are battered in this way, alienated from their audiences before they have a chance to make much
of a lasting impact. The music world thrives on stories of musicians who catapult to fame with
their eyes half-closed, only to find once they get a chance to look around that their star has
already burned out. There exist very few guitar heroes, few enough that most of us can recite a
brief list without worrying that any vital figures were forgotten. The airwaves are filled with
musicians who have promise, something that makes their art worth listening to. But somehow,
this band is different. “From the Sandcastle” holds an energy that is barely contained in the
songs themselves, an energy that is equally apparent on the Shakedown’s first music video for
their song “Say a Prayer.” The songs are timeless in the same way that the best classic rock
songs of the 1960s and 1970s are timeless, relevant in more ways than one and clever enough to
listen to over and over again.

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