Friday, March 10, 2023

Bryan Yurcan Makes Music Out Of The Left Field In ‘Songs for Eclectic Weirdos’ EP

Among the most common complaints about the issues plaguing the contemporary music scene is the one noting its ever-increasing homogeneity: more often than ever, all new music seems to sound the same, and this is especially true for the more mainstream genres such as pop and classic rock. 

For those who are looking for something genuinely different, the most common avenue is to delve into the depths of the lesser-known avant-garde scenes. 

Yet, what is to be done for the lovers of a more classic form of songwriting, hoping to find something that is not yet another poorly reheated version of a classic? 

One possible answer to this conundrum is offered by the new EP from indie singer-songwriter Bryan Yurcan: a veteran of the music scene who, with this aptly titled ‘Songs For Eclectic Weirdos’, promises some much-needed relief for those wondering whether it is still possible to produce something innovative within well-familiar genres. 

Yurcan describes his own music as garage folk; the juxtaposition of two elements that are rarely placed together is a good starting point for understanding the makeup of his sound. The structure of the four tracks on the EP relies on a solid classic rock backbone with just a nod to 70s-style psychedelia, but the roots of the dominant elements in his songwriting reside in the 90s' - the world of late blues and country-influenced rock. Yet these are declined to serve a much more contemplative, almost meditative element that perfectly fits the folk label; the ability of the songwriter lies in the way he can make such disparate parts fit together, into something that comes across, in the end, both harmonious and unexpected.

Delving into the four tracks of the EP, one is confronted with clever soundbites. All the songs are fairly short, with the longest being ‘When The Days Are Long’ which stands at four minutes and a half whilst also serving as an introduction of sorts to the atmospheres of the record – which in a sense are meant to build individual microcosms, each one revolving around a distinctive element which becomes in a sense its defining feature. Thus ‘Long Road (To Kalamazoo)’ is eminently danceable, with something in it that is reminiscent of Jethro Tull and other classics of the same sort, catchy and mellow at the same time. ‘Many-Colored Roses’ has a campfire vibe, aided by the clever use of vocals, while at the same time drawing elements from the most classic of folk ballads and rethinking them in a contemporary fashion which brings to mind the likes of The Handsome Family. ‘At The End Of The Day’ is slow and meditative, with dreamlike lyrics and an unexpected arrangement which has something of classic country to it coupled with an unusual, even slightly startling, production. The lyrics dominate throughout the record; it is an EP to follow with care, which can provide a soothing backdrop for casual listening but has much more to reveal when one devotes more attention to its narrative elements.

Eclectic is indeed an excellent word to describe this record. Sincere in its portrayal of emotions and able to couple stripped-down vocals with quirky harmonisations, it certainly contains many elements that will be familiar to listeners, especially ones well acquainted with the worlds of blues, US folk-rock and Americana. But it also has a striking ability to incorporate suggestions from much further afield, and to blur the borders of genre to produce an authentic, individualised voice.

It is comforting and slightly disquieting, gentle and sharp in the right places; a good soundtrack for a lazy day and a subtle invitation to a bit of much-needed escapism. It may incorporate nods, citations even, to a number of things that we have already heard, but it has a cleverness in putting those pieces in a different order, producing something that is pleasantly disruptive of the monotony of mainstream music genres. It is, in short, without doubt a record that does what it says on the tin, strengthened by the maturity of a songwriter who is clearly comfortable with his tune and with a knack for storytelling in music.

Chiara Strazzulla


Image: Songs for Eclectic Weirdos’ Official EP Cover

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