Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Album Review: The Sidekicks - Awkward Breeds

Album Rating: A
Something new and refreshing is a precious gem in today’s music scene. Such releases deserve great accolade and attention. However, when someone takes something seemingly tired and broken and makes it new again, even greater consideration is demanded. This is exactly Ohio’s The Sidekick’s newest full length, Awkward Breeds. Released through Red Scare Industries, the record takes generic musical themes and, through a unique identity and attitude, makes them exciting again.

Awkward Breeds is a 40 minute punk rock experience that pays homage to folksy roots with a tendency for poppy processions. The record kicks off with some feedback and a pulsating 7/4 barrage of sound that quickly prepares the listener for what is to come: big, bright tones and a pensive yet upbeat attitude. “DMT” is a highly memorable introductory anthem with spunk and a little too much technical proficiency to land itself on the radio. The record proceeds in similar fashion, with big hooks and just the right amount of breathing room. The power of the driving chord progressions are greatly emphasized by the fantastic production of the record, which is big and in your face yet artfully restrained enough to really bring out the intricacy of orchestration.

Steve Ciolek’s signature vocal style is a huge benefactor to the band’s identity. While he pays tribute to many of his punk predecessor’s, he really does something that is strictly his own, especially in his lyrical content. While his message is generally upbeat and encouraging, he covers a range of subjects in his songs that set the group apart from its peers. The lyrics are very mature for a band of such age in a genre that tends to be devoid of any deeper meaning.

The beauty of Awkward Breeds is its capacity to transition from one vibe to another seamlessly. A typical song might start off with high-tempo punk structure and quickly devolve into a bass-heavy atmospheric section, only to come back in a fury with a huge hook. The group constantly leaves the listener guessing about what is next, a huge benefit to a group that might otherwise be one-dimensional and ultimately bland.

Awkward Breeds is definitely a feel-good record that features greater depth than what one might expect from such a group. The record will hopefully rub off on The Sidekick’s contemporaries, but the greatness of the record is the result of talented and creative songwriting combined with a bit of sincerity, something that cannot be copied and pasted. Even if you typically aren’t a fan of anything generally termed punk rock, Awkward Breeds might surprise you.

01 – DMT
02 – Grace
03 – Peacock
04 – Incandescent Days
05 – 1940′s Fighter Jet
06 – Diamond Eyes
07 – The Whale And Jonah
08 – The 9th Piece
09 – Looker
10 – Baby, Baby
11 – Daisy

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