Uptown Boys Regular – Tyler Burns

This debut EP by Tyler Burns is a brief, five track introduction to the new wave singer and electronic composer. Burns manages to imitate his influences like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode yet is unable to make an indelible mark for himself. The album is upbeat and dancey and features the usual electronic accoutrement of new wave synth music: electronic beeps, blips and synthesizer melodies.

The failure is in not just in the imitative nature of the sound but that it a cheap imitation. We can all applaud and enjoy bands like The Bravery and the Shout Out Louds because they make layered and complex music even if it is highly derivative. But here the effort lacks the depth of electronic layering and composition that make those bands so compelling. The amateurish production is the main culprit in what should be considered a demo CD more than anything else. Maybe if Burns had a bigger budget he would have been able to achieve a fuller sound, one that could possibly result in a more sophisticated musical arrangement. It also could help mask Burns’ limited vocal range — his inability to reach vocal heights serves to ground any hope of an emotional transcendence.

There are no peaks on this album only bland monotony. He tries to deviate from new wave by infusing a sort of George Michael pop sexiness, most evident on “Stop The World” with its breathy vocals. He veers off track and in his attempt to add some sexiness shows he hasn’t made up his mind if he wants to make pop or new wave. The former embodies vulnerability and this contrived sexiness seems terribly out of place further confounding the already ill-conceived effort.

By Shaun Flagg


  10 comments for “Uptown Boys Regular – Tyler Burns

  1. The Prophet
    August 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Uptown Boys is second only to Stairway for greatest song of all time. T Burns is the voice of our generation

  2. Tyler Burns
    August 17, 2009 at 2:10 am

    I agree with Shaun…it wasn’t a perfect record. I was just having fun recording a few upbeat pop songs and I’m surprised this EP even got reviewed here. It was more of a learning process than anything.


  3. Shaun
    August 11, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments Alec. I respect what you are writing here. I would like to say that even as a critic I still feel music to my core. It feeds my soul and keeps me sane. I LOVE MUSIC!

    In the end I am a music fan before anything else. That is why I do what I do. Being a critic puts you in the hot seat where you are forced to have an opinion via a kind of methodical analysis based on experience and understanding of music in its varied forms. I think analyzing music actually gives me a deeper appreciation for it. I can understand your thought process in thinking that analysis could destroy the emotional connection to art. But for me much of my emotional connection originates from an intellectual place.

    Analysis of literature and poetry helps us better understand and thus appreciate the art at a higher level. I think in much the same way being able to listen to music with a critical ear allows you to pick up nuance and give it the undivided attention that it’s creators have intended. Of course at the end of the day my opinion is just that, an opinion. It’s all very subjective. I just try to make a good educated judgment on where I think this work falls on the spectrum.

    You can read more of my reviews and features here. I think you will find I am thoughtful and sincere in my approach – http://www.dialektinc.com/writer.html.


  4. Alec
    August 9, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I fully agree with David. This EP shows some of the best potential I have seen for a new modern pop artist. I understand how this album could come across to music reviewers as a bit amateur, because music reviewers really don’t listen to music very well. Their first listen of an album is to criticize it, not to try to enjoy it like a music enthusiast such as myself. Listening to albums over and over and evaluating and re-evaluating them is such a part of my life that I almost started an modern music blog where i could review albums, but then I realized that if I did this I would lose the enjoyment-focused perspective that I have now when I listen to an album and trade it in for the type of perspective surface level, critical-music-listening perspective that someone like you (Shaun) has. Now I am not pointing the finger at you, so don’t take offense. I mean i have that same perspective when I watch movies, frankly because modern ones are so atrocious (most music these days is too), but I think a perspective like this causes one to completely miss the point of an EP like this. This album has variety from track to track that is rarely seen in music. It almost has the flow of a greatest hits album…totally not the norm today….but this is why I love it. I knew this album would be criticized like crazy from the first time I listened to it because of how different of upbeat the sound is (not the norm for modern music – which seems to only be taken seriously if it is well…serious), and also because of this “greatest hits”-like album flow.

    Shaun I probably would have had your same perspective had I not been able to really get very deep into this album. My opinion is that you have to listen to albums for enjoyment and experience first then – be critical. Not criticize-then try to enjoy. Most people these days don’t do this and this is why the best artists are typically not the most popular.

    The “ipod-earbud-instant-gratification-upon-first-listen” perspective has taken over. How else could people with almost no songwriting talent be making the most popular music today (rappers, r&b artists, and the whole jack johnson/john mayer crew). Yes instant appeal is important for a few songs on an album, but when every song is written for that purpose the long-term re-listenability of an album is thrown out the window. Nobody buys rap albums, they download individual songs. People need to take out the freaking earbuds, and put some vinal or a cd on the 5.1 and sit down on the couch and enjoy. This is the pathway to a better music experience. Doing this has turned some of the initially least appealing albums i have ever listened to into my favorite albums of all time.

    Its not about what music can do for you (ex. help you workout). Its about getting yourself into the experience of the music. And I definitely had this experience listening to the Uptown Boys Regular EP!!! I can’t wait for TB’s first album.

    oh and by the way….i don’t exactly think this album was exactly low budget….i heard it was recorded in the same studio that The Shins recorded their last album at….correct me if i’m wrong david

  5. David
    July 7, 2008 at 11:04 am

    “He tries to deviate from new wave by infusing a sort of George Michael pop sexiness, most evident on

  6. Shaun
    May 28, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    We don’t pass over the obscure here at Skope. We review the whole spectrum from mainstream to underground; from big budget studio productions to basement recordings. Some of the best stuff is the spirited EPs of breakthrough artists and we are always on the look out for new talent.

    Case in point is Voxtrot, their first 3 EPs were fantastically raw, charged with emotion and layered with static fuzz and a DIY low production sound. Then they went and polished up on their LP and lost all that lo-fi charm. The spontaneity of their sound vanished and the result was this contrived and disingenuous effort.

    My point is that you can find some of the best music floating in obscurity.

  7. May 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Good point. I have embedded audio on some of these reviews and am trying to make that the rule going forward. I definitely see a lot of value in that.

    Here is the review of Tapes N Tapes with the one track audio player


  8. May 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Well of course I know that album reviews are not paid for. I’m just a bit surprised that you chose to spend your time ripping apart an EP that nobody was going to hear anyway…seems like generally writers aren’t going to waste their time writing a bad review of a record unless at least 5 people are at risk of hearing it.

    Also- if the reader is free to make their own determination, why not post a link to a site where the EP can be heard? Let the music fight back a bit :-)


  9. Shaun
    May 28, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Hi David

    I write my opinions based on my impression of the album. These album reviews are not PR funded advertorials – these are unbiased critiques. Sometimes the opinions can sting but it is my job to be critical and at times brutally honest. Of course the reader and listener is free to make their own determination.


  10. May 28, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Hi Shaun– Not sure why you felt the need to rip apart this album with such scathing words when nobody’s even heard of it, but hey… I’m sure Tyler will be glad to know his PR campaign money was well-spent.

    Came across this review as I was looking for news on artists I’ve worked with (I engineered the album, sorry it sounds low-budget to you).

    David Pollock

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