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Double Album Reviews: I'm afraid he's too cool to see you right now

Here we are in the midst of another Monday and I have another round of reviews for you. I've got two today, because after finishing the write up for the new Sidekicks album I felt compelled to do a second album. In addition to the previously scheduled look at Awkward Breeds you also get a quick glance at the equally quick Rock You to Sleep from the hockey mad Hextalls. Also get excited, later in this week I should be writing my first non-review for Up The Pucks alongside the brilliant Brandon Gee. There, that gives you something to look forward too.

Oh, and the link embedded in the album titles will take you to a bandcamp page or an alternative location than the more explicitly featured iTunes link.

The Sidekicks – Awkward Breeds (iTunes)

Melodic punk darlings turned pop influence rock music reminiscent of the Weakerthans have released a new album after their 2009 Weight of Air. The band has continued to move away from their gravelly punk roots towards a sound that would feel very much at home in any one of the dancing scenes at the Bronze from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. And there is the sound that best describes Awkward Breeds, 90s alternative rock. Me, I like my pop rock hookier, more energetic than most of what The Sidekicks deliver on their new album. While most of the songs are enjoyable few of them are truly engaging. Part of this stems from what I think are some moments when Steve Ciolek’s delivery is a bit weird. The two parts that suffer the most are the start of the second verse of “The Whale and Jonah” and then the Coxian delivery of the word “me” in “Looker.” Finally the falsetto towards the end of Peacock is not good. No, it is not. I feel that at some points the vocals have a negative impact on some great sounding music that really represents a step forward from either of the band’s previous efforts.

Despite these knocks against Ciolek, there are some great moments on Awkward Breeds. The second versus of “Incandescent Eyes” is just a wonderful piece of poetry and probably my favorite moment on the album. “1940’s Jet Fighter” is also a nice song that slowly builds towards a passionate finish. It made me wish that more of the album could’ve had moments like that one. My two favorite numbers come at the middle and end of the album. “Diamond Eyes” is a fun little song that had me tapping my feet and the closing “Daisy” is probably my favorite track of the eleven. After I had finished my review listening I went back and immediately gave it a second listen. In the end I found myself wanting Awkward Breeds to be more fun than it was. There were certainly moments when I felt that fun and energy, but it didn’t sustain me through the length of the album.


The Hextalls – Rock You to Sleep (iTunes)

There are bands that want to grow and push limits with each subsequent album, and then there are bands that know exactly what they want to do and then go and execute it perfectly. The Hextalls are certainly in the latter group. The Vancouver based band plays the type of irreverent, immature pop punk that always has a place in the heart of punk enthusiasts. Like their past work Rock You to Sleep is meant to me a hell of a lot of fun with goofy lyrics about Kenny Rodgers, sleeping outside, and generally being a goofball. While nothing the band does is really special, they really are a clever a bunch of guys. The Hextalls take the modern pop punk trick of adding a piano to add depth and emotion to a song and turn it on its head by pairing that piano with lines about flat bike tires. On the Flyers playoffs focused “I Bred This Beard for Slaughter” the organ shows up in true hockey style to play during a short bridge. Its little touches like that that make a fun album interesting to listen to. Its refreshing when a group of guys know they aren’t reinventing the wheel, but sure as hell did rip the tire off and make a kickass swing.




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    Double Album Reviews: I'm afraid he's too cool to see you right now - Punk Rock and Hockey Podcast - Up The Pucks

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