As aggressive a self-promoter as this critic has ever encountered, Brett Wilder, who records under that name as well as the Brettster, portrays himself on his MySpace pages (www.myspace.com/brettwildermusic and www.myspace.com/welovethebrettster) as a burgeoning underground/Internet phenomenon (More than 700,000 music plays more than 25,000 pay-for downloads all for an unsigned artist? We must be doing something right!) with a fascinating back story thats part Jewel and part Kerouac: He allegedly ran away from home in Alaska at age 15 and hitchhiked across the country, busking on street corners and chronicling his travels in songs recorded on his laptop along the way, until he finally landed in Chicago.
With his adenoidal singing and enthusiastic if rudimentary acoustic guitar, occasionally adorned with a few canned laptop instrumental sounds, the Brettster comes off as a junior-high imitation/parody of Bright Eyes. The children dont remember the color of the sky now/The children dont remember the ocean is a distance/The children dont see reality/The children see everything virtually, the artist sings. Whoa, whoa, whats the world coming to/I dont wanna be just another number/I dont wanna be a part of the system! In fact, songs such as Whats the World Comin To and the more pop-oriented Boy Meets Girl Meets Girl play like a Spinal Tap or Mighty Wind-level satire of emo earnestness, and Im not at all convinced that the whole thing isnt a Rock, Rot and Rule-worthy put-on.
If it is a joke, its an elaborate onethere are a dozen songs streaming from the two Web pages, and more available for download from CDbaby.comand its nothing short of brilliant. If Wilder is in fact the real deal, well, hed really be better off playing it as a joke. If youre motivated enough to investigate, the Brettster claims hell be playing for free on the street at Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square every Saturday and Sunday morning through the end of Junewith autographed copies of his debut album available for $10.