Living in the Now

Shryne’s ‘honest but polished’ pop-rock
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 12, 2010


There’s no denying the ongoing presence of what we’ll call melodic pop acts here in Rhode Island, bands comprised of guys in their mid-20s with a serious knack for penning sugary-sweet hooks and harmonies. From veteran Johnny Lingo to acclaimed newcomers Fairhaven, piano-driven pop-rock is on the radar. Here and Now marks the official return of Shryne as well as defining words to live by. The new disc is the long-awaited follow-up to their 2002 debut, Day Has Turned to Evening (both albums available at and iTunes), which featured original lead vocalist Nicholas O’Neill (aka Nicky O), who died the following year in the Station nightclub fire. Their bond as friends and bandmates is fortified and, as the album title declares, the quintet is forwardly-focused, as lead guitarist Anthony Mattera noted.

“Our past obviously is a delicate issue and something which we’re definitely not trying to publicize,” Mattera told me earlier this week while talking up Shryne’s two upcoming shows, including a Saturday afternoon set at McCoy Stadium as part of a family-friendly event benefiting the Rhode Island Community Food Bank — bring one canned good per person and admission is free.

Shryne co-founder Jon Brennan assumed singing duties when the band reconvened in 2004 with original members Alex Tirrell (keys), Andrew Sharp (bass), and Jeff Cruz (drums). They started recording shortly after Mattera joined the foursome in late 2007.

“I wouldn’t say we sit down and make a conscious effort to write pop-rock songs,” Mattera pointed out. “Our main focus is writing songs that we would want to listen to ourselves and not get tired of playing over and over again.

“Our ultimate goal was to create an honest but polished record.”

Shryne was not chosen among the finalists for this year’s WBRU Rock Hunt; like-minded act the Wandas took the crown, while piano-pop quartet Fairhaven took the ’09 crown. But WBRU as well as WHJY are spinning the leadoff single “Discord,” and I would think the album opener, “When the Lights Go Down,” or “Empty White Page” would follow, as Shryne seem to be at their best when ramping up the tempo. I’m still trying to pinpoint which Fleetwood Mac song I hear on the hook in “Burn Away the Light,” and the opening riff on “The Here and the Now” reminds me of Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend.” The keys that open “Vanity Affair” recall Bon Jovi’s “Runaway,” while “Deep Inside” is a slow-jam highlight.

Mattera reports that the band is working on a full East Coast tour later this year. Having tweaked and road-tested Here and Now cuts over the past two years, Mattera said the band may pull out some new, post-Now tracks at upcoming shows.

“There are rare occasions where we’ll throw in a song from the first album,” he said, “but we’re very focused on living in the here and now these days.”

SHRYNE + KEVIN WILLIAMS & THE INVISIBLE ORPHANS + THE RHYTHM WHORES + CRIMSON HARVEST | Friday, May 14 @ 9 pm | Cat’s, 530 Broadway, Pawtucket | 21+ | 401.722.0150

SHRYNE + STALEMATE + RAZING THE BAR @ the PawSox Food Drive | May 15 @ 2 pm | McCoy Stadium, 1 Columbus Ave, Pawtucket | All-ages | One canned good = free admission |

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