Review: Brydon Crain – The Capital

Brydon Crain is a sweetheart. One of my favourite Brydon moments was walking into a small Fredericton café for breakfast when he was working. We ordered breakfast croissant sandwiches and, when he brought them to the table, he said “I’m sorry if they look a little messed up, it’s really hard to cut a croissant.” His Moose Dry hat really tied the room together. We tipped well.

He’s busy. As a founding member of the Shifty Bits Cult, you can find him screaming his heart out for the best band in Fredericton, Motherhood. You can probably also find him hosting their monthly lottery event at The Capital or dreaming up some other amazing thing for he and his partner in crime, Penelope Stevens, to get their hands dirty with. He’ll be smiling the whole time, probably.

But this EP release, The Capital, is a lot more grim than you might expect from such a chill guy. Reverb-drenched guitar and Brydon’s unique, gritty voice pockmark your mood with browns and greys like brown slush on fluffy, white snow. You might get a reprieve from the stunning harmonies and backing vocals of Penelope Stevens (that’s more or less how she rolls). Motherhood’s Adam Sipkema rounds out the vocals quite well. He should sing more in Motherhood.

This is beautiful, fetal-position blues, friends. Broken-heart stomps through soft tones. And Brydon’s thinly-veiled bluesman persona wants you to wallow in it. So, after wrecking me up for a whole morning, I started asking him questions:

So, you’re probably one of the most gracious and pleasant people I know. How is it that you sound like someone has beaten your heart into a tattered mess?

Brydon Crain: I’m not generally a fan of happy music, so that’s why I started writing about things that aren’t very happy. But I think it’s also just a release where if I can get out those negative emotions in music then they don’t bug me in real life.

That’s a pretty healthy attitude for a 22 (21?) year old dude.

BC: Haha, 21. I actually picked it up from when I was in middle school and I was really into AFI and I was reading all these interviews where they seemed really happy. It was strange to me but I figured there must be a connection between how dark the music and how happy they were. So thanks, Davey.

Does this solo work differ, subject-wise, from what you’d write for Motherhood? 

BC: Not really. I don’t write the songs with the intention of putting them anywhere until I can see what kind of a song it is.

I suppose, you also pull writing duty for Maiden Names. Do you have enough outlets? Where’s your dance band? Where’s your twee project with glockenspiels?

BC: Haha, I actually have been slacking a little with lyrics for Maiden Names, [Matt] Legere’s done the majority of that so far. But I plan to write some things for the new EP. Having a bunch of bands is the thing to do now though, it’s not like the days when jamming with another band was cheating. The trick is finding the balance of being productive with every project, I’m still trying to figure that part out.

But once I do you may get your glockenspiel.

I’ve got one, if you need an amateur glockenspielist.

BC: I’ll keep that in mind.

I guess that’s the other thing. Fredericton is so collaborative right now. The scene is healthier than it’s been in a while. And it doesn’t seem like all of these people playing together are releasing anything homogenous. Every outfit has it’s own different flavor. Can you hazard a guess as to why this is? How are we not fucking this up?

BC: I think it’s because Fredericton has that small town feel, so you know the bands that are around and everyone is so nice here that we all became friends. As for the the different flavors, I think that’s just because there are a lot of talented musicians here that all have different things they want to do.

Well, listen. You’re a super swell dude and I look forward to what you’ll figure out for the new year. Thanks for having a chat! Any parting words?

BC: Thanks, dude. It was a pleasure. I guess my parting words would be that people should listen to Shifty Bits stuff, and watch out for some things.


- Mike Nason

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