Friday, May 4, 2012

The Sidekicks
Awkward Breeds

I've been introduced to The Sidekicks at just about the worst possible time, how can I be expected to maintain my introspective melancholia with this posi post-rock bulls eye of a record staring me in the face? The unassuming back cover painting these unimaginatively named fellows as three skaters-turned-hippies and the "came with the frame" guy from The Burbs did not prepare me for the bright, hooky, late 90's wail contained within. "DMT" is a pitch-imperfect opener, an instantly hummable dervish with just enough whirl readymade for summer mixtapes. It also serves as your initiation to The Sidekicks' earnestly ear-splitting vocal style, shipwrecked somewhere between harmony and cacophony, it's this heartwarming howl that'll keep you coming back. "The Whale and Jonah" kicks off side B like a sucker punch and is conclusive evidence that these guys wore out their Pinkerton cassettes and had to call out The Wall on its Lifetime Guarantee policy. Yes, that wildly popular worst-best Weezer album is everywhere on this record, but because of the sheer energy hitting you in the face, I'm also reminded of Superchunk or a slightly more gruff Ted Leo as well as 90's mainstays like Sensefield, The Get Up Kids, and the all-but-forgotten-yet-brilliant For Squirrels. It may be a diverse sampling, but The Sidekicks seem to have an uncanny ability to weave together genres while creating their sound. The track I revisit the most is the inconspicuously radio-friendly "Baby,Baby", a straightforward yet bizarre rock amalgam both drowning in, and escaping all modern influences. "1940's Jet Fighter" and "Incandescent Days" are also strong, though lyrically they don't differ much from the rest of the record, stories of girls who were good, bad, or (as in most cases) indifferent. "Looker" and "Peacock" are not particularly strong, but the use of an absolutely Piebaldian falsetto eventually endeared them to me, and closer "Daisy", is both predictable and appropriate. Though personally I may have strayed a bit from this type of youthful caterwauling, records like Awkward Breeds make me regret that choice and remind me that this is essentially the soundtrack of the best days you'll have. If you've got a heart that's perpetually on the mend, a beer in both hands, and you're not too cool to sing along -- you're sure to love this record as much as I do.

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