GETTING DIRTY Sidecar Radio put out raw energy.
Sidecar Radio have become one of the most versatile and interesting bands in the area, playing just about any roadhouse bar or rock club with an audience that likes to get fired up and seemingly managing to increase their sonic wattage each and every year. If for nothing else, Sidecar are impressive for the sheer force of will the three-piece exude from the stage. They can be loud, yes, but it's more than volume. It's a crackling energy that's incredibly invigorating when you stand in front of them.
On the new Guillotine Mouth, their fourth EP since their 2005 debut full-length, Soundtrack from the Upside (which doesn't seem to be in print anymore), Sidecar Radio do the best job yet of capturing that raw energy portion of their appeal, building on, say, Dreadnaught Cosmonaut's "Hospital's on Fire" with more heavy guitars, more full-throated vocals from Christian Hayes, and more simple intensity.
The five songs here are interesting especially because Hayes has managed to keep his trademark delivery, a crisp cadence interspersed with elongated rage, while largely moving past the band's upstroke beginnings (save for "Push My Luck," which opens upstroke, but angry, and then quickly attacks out of it for the chorus). This works particularly because Corey Tibbetts's bass and Jason Stewart's drumming are so melodic even as they're loud. You'd be hard pressed to find a rhythm section that accomplishes as much per song as Sidecar's.
Tibbetts carries the chorus of "Call out My Ghosts," pulling a thread through the song that allows Hayes to get esoteric with lyrical repetition and phrasing, along with punctuating his rhythm guitar lines with peals of high end. The drum breakdowns that Stewart uses to introduce both the false finish and the true finale of the closing "Devil's in the Details" are so cleanly virtuosic you almost take it for granted.
The three are most distinctly dark as a unit on the opening "Barbaro," where Hayes throws out a Twisted Roots nod with a "brick on the gas" phrase in the verse, and an "I am Ironman" riff in the foot-stomping chord progression. Like a football team that prides itself on playing "smashmouth" ball, Sidecar seem to simply be lining up, crashing straight ahead, and daring you to stand in their way.
Or, as Hayes sings on the fiery "Hijacked": "I'm a hijacked plane," unpredictable, unstable, and more than a little dangerous. Yet, "you keep waiting to escape."
Sam Pfeifle can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUILLOTINE MOUTH | Released by Sidecar Radio | on Labor Day Records | with Whitcomb | at the Asylum, in Portland | Oct 14 | sidecarradio.com