DMT // Grace // Peacock // 1940’s Fighter Jet // Diamond Eyes // The Whale and Jonah // The 9th Piece // Looker // Baby, Baby // Daisy

Awkward Breeds, the new album from Ohio natives The Sidekicks, opens with a wistful soundclip of children playing in a park. Their laughter creates a mood brimming with promise and unimpeded potential. This mood is quickly sliced in half by the feedback of a guitar, signaling the "awful seeds" of inevitable disappointment growing up in modern American society. The death of the American dream, the loss of innocence.

Coming to terms with this loss is a heavy theme throughout Awkward Breeds; nurture spoiling the naturally occurring blank slate of naivete. Ironically, this dark mood is conveyed through the vehicle of youthful, jovial, poppy rock songs.

At peppier moments, The Sidekicks sound like Teenage Fanclub if the band actually had the enthusiasm of its namesake. In fact, the record drips with 90's revisionist rock. There are wonderful Weezer-esque octave runs, vocal "woo-oooos" that follow tremolo guitar melodies and, in the album's more tender moments, vocalist and primary songwriter Steve Ciolek can even sound like a whispering Counting Crow (sans dreads).

Ciolek and guitarist Matt Scheuermann sound like they were born to sing together. Each chorus is a perfect synthesis of one's melody, meeting the other's harmony, cascading back into the promise of a bouncing verse. The solid mid-tempo rhythm section of Matt Climer's drumming, and new bassist Ryan Starinsky propel the momentum forward, while calculatingly scaling it back for dynamic shifts, and quieter accents.

The songs on Awkward Breeds were road tested for over a year before being put to tape, and the recorded performance of them maintains a sincere and accurate live translation. Unlike many other modern pop records, this one sounds like actual human beings played actual instruments and ACTUALLY SANG. The existential crisis in the lyrics further humanizes Awkward Breeds, and adds to the listener's connection with the songs.

If The Sidekicks are attempting to mend a broken attachment to the world, and somehow circumvent the wedge that modernity puts between good people, they've successfully connected with Awkward Breeds.
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