Albany soul rocker Bryan Thomas’ latest projects include “Smash to Pieces,” a five-song EP produced with his band the Buggy Jive; “Basement Live,” a series of music videos recorded live in his home studio with a band that includes multiple versions of himself… and, oh yes, an app. Seriously.
Says Nippertown’s Greg Haymes: “With Prince as his primary musical touchstone, Thomas’ uncompromising songs are specifically local, yet gloriously global. He writes smart, and he writes from the heart, balancing intellect, passion and politics.”
The Albany Times Union named Thomas “Best Male Singer-Songwriter” shortly after he released his acoustic hip-hop debut Radio Plastic Jennifer in 1999. The follow-up soul rock epic Ones and Zeros was Metroland Magazine’s “Album of the Year” in 2002.
Since then, he’s been in the studio with punk legend Tommy Ramone, making a special guest appearance on a track produced by Ramone for New York City’s genre-smashing neo-punksters Collider. Bryan’s music can be heard on the opening track of the Black Rock Coalition’s Bronze Buckaroo Rides Again which also includes a track by BRC founder/ Living Colour guitar wizard Vernon Reid. He has three songs on the double-live Pazfest: A New Orleans Tribute to Joni Mitchell recorded on a steamy Louisiana night at the Howlin’ Wolf in the summer of 2000.
Samples of Bryan’s music, video and poetry can be found online at his award-winning web site bryanthomas.com, and at TheHiddenCity.com, a webzine for underground arts in Albany, New York. Thomas is a founding member of the Hidden City collective.
He’s also been known to take a photo around town.
- The Hidden City. Co-founder of Albany underground arts webzine. 1999-present. [link]
- The Sugarcookie Project. Contributed two songs to drummer Dan Sorensen’s “band by proxy.” 2006. [link]
- Famous. Soundtrack and theme song for short film by Jason Thomas. 2004.
- The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Again. Contributed opening track to Black Rock Coalition compilation CD, which also features a track by Living Colour guitarist and BRC founder Vernon Reid. 2001. [link]
- Inside Albany. Theme music; weekly PBS state government news magazine. 1999.
- Gauge. Lead guitar for CD produced by songwriting team of Matt Bonner and D. Alec Smith, a.k.a. Medicine Stone. 1998.
- Apartment D. Soundtrack. A film by Carl Liss. Debuted on PBS stations WMHT/Albany and WCFE/Plattsburgh, 1997.
Thomas lives in Albany with his wife Cindy and daughters Zoe and Maya. He is the first born child of the Rev. Willis Thomas III and Deloris G. Thomas, who relocated from Baton Rouge, LA, to Schenectady, NY, for jobs in education. Brothers Jason and Justin are actors, athletes, artists, accountants, poetic assassins in and about New York City.
Thomas rocks the web communications full-time (and then some) for an unnamed employer at an undisclosed location near Albany, New York.
Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont. B.A. in English, and Niskayuna Schools. Schenectady, New York, K-12.
They Write Reviews
“With One Three Six Nine Lights, [Thomas] rocks harder than on any of his previous five albums, all of which are first-rate. With Prince as his primary musical touchstone, Thomas’ uncompromising songs are specifically local, yet gloriously global. He writes smart, and he writes from the heart, balancing intellect, passion and politics.”
John Brodeur, Metroland
“Opener ‘Muse,’ which (perhaps unwittingly) borrows a verse melody from Springsteen’s ‘Blinded by the Light,’ lays out the band mentality from the get-go-it’s one of the most ‘rock’ tracks in Thomas’ great catalog. The sound of the electric guitar, a staple of his live sets over the years, has never been as front-and-center as it is here; wailing Stratocaster solos simply dominate some songs. He is as self-referential and Capital Region-centric as ever-characters, and entire musical phrases, from elsewhere in his career make cameos here-but that’s what makes him such a compelling artist. Few performers could maintain such a thematic through line in their material without actually copying themselves; Bryan Thomas continues to blaze new trails (besides the one that leads to Delmar) while staying true to himself, and to his hometown.”
J. Eric Smith, Metroland
“Ones and Zeros stands strong as one of the most thoughtful, heart-tugging and hip-shaking records of the year… Oblique spiritual imagery crashes against bawdy earthy realism, sparks, blood and honey flying with each concussion…. A near-perfect depiction of that ethereal place where ‘pop’ and ‘smart’ aren’t antonyms, and where the mind, soul and body can groove together without stepping on each others’ toes, happy in the glow of fine, fine artistry and deep, deep passion – both of which Bryan Thomas displays like nobody’s business.”
Greg Haymes, Times Union
In naming Thomas Male Singer-Songwriter of the Year, The Times Union says: “[Radio Plastic Jennifer] is a dazzling whirlwind of folk-funk, as Thomas tackles love and betrayal, sin and salvation, lollipops and lingerie. The songs are smart, erotically charged and full of heart — an all-too rare combination. Six for example, is a dizzying stream-of-consciouness slab of rock-rap with Thomas riffing on everything from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘The 12 Days of Christmas,’ from mood rings to junk bonds, from Loretta Lynn to Guns ‘N Roses to Danny Partridge. Cycle cuts even deeper, a tale of young African-Americans struggling against all odds to survive in a hostile world. An epic emotional rollercoaster of a song, Thomas descends from heartbreaking sorrow to bone-chilling terror before finally grabbing hold of a sliver of hope and redemption in the power of love. By the end of the song, he’s chanting ‘Everything’s gonna be all right,’ as though he can make it so solely through repetition and his sheer passion… Buy the CD… or get out of the house and see what he can do in person. You won’t be disappointed.”
Riffage.com (Featured Artist)
“Bryan Thomas is a maverick talent who consolidates acoustified rock with funk and R&B roots, all the while moving boldly into the pop realm. His superbly crafted songs are a mix of stylistic experiments with soulful vocals, representing musical diversity as they move fluidly through textures and genres. This one is for fans of Prince and Lenny Kravitz.”