When you toss Bradley Wik and the Charlatans’ debut album Burn What you Can, Bury the Rest into a computer, the machine will categorize it as pop music. Machines lie, and they can’t be trusted. This is not pop music. It is blue-collar rock, working-class Americana with a sound comparable to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty or John “Cougar” Mellencamp. The songs are full of girls, booze, bars and cars — no horses, no cowboy boots and no outlaws.
Including bassist Sasha Shybut, drummer Nick Kostenborder, guitarist Brian Bergstrom and Wik, who supplies the scratchy yet soulful vocals, this band is proof that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t quite mummified yet. Or if it is, these guys are some serious tomb raiders.
Rock fans will have flashbacks listening to Bradley Wik and the Charlatans, alt-country buffs will also dig it. Country fans might not, but you get the feeling that these boys from Portland aren’t trying to please that demographic — or any demographic for that matter. This band takes the aesthetics of Uncle Tupelo, early Wilco and Ryan Adams and expands.
When you stumble into Wik and company, you find a band that is almost too young to possess the sound it commands, seasoned beyond its years and ready to take off.
Bradley Wik and the Charlatans play 8:30 pm Thursday, June 14, at Axe and Fiddle; $5.