The Dirty Sidewalks don’t list names of band members on their Bandcamp page. Now, normally I’d be like ok, that’s their prerogative, they’re concerned about people friending them on Facebook and stuff. But the more I listen to this band, it really pi**es me off that I can’t come upon the singer’s name. Actually, I just want to verify that it’s in fact not Courtney Taylor-Taylor from The Dandy Warhols. (That was a joke… I know it’s not… the Sidewalks are from Seattle and the Dandies from Portland.)
Well, anyway, and this should be apparent already, but this dude was made for rock and roll (undeniably the format here evident from the first song title, a Stone Roses template fueled by Queens of the Stone Age guitar and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club West-Coast swagger). The influences are here in full.
One thing that has me puzzled is why these guys use drum machine on some songs [“Rock & Roll (Save My Soul)”] and a live drummer on most others (“Already”; “Always” and beyond). Actually, the live drummer can even have a knack of sounding like a drum machine… but I can tell it’s live because the kick and snare hits sound slightly different from each other. Anyway, the result is a constantly bolstered freshness, track two “Never Wanted to Be Loved” sort of stalking in like the physical verification of inner-band rivalry, and maybe not too convincing in that message of not wanting to be loved, for that matter.
By about 20 seconds into the newly despondent “Heard You Wanna Kill Me”, as well as perhaps exploring some unfortunate Northwest sociological themes there, it’s clear that the band is primarily bent on making sound man’s rock and roll. Indeed, it’s almost like it doesn’t even MATTER whether “Heard You Wanna Kill Me” congeals into a memorable, meaningful chorus or not — it’s one of the most flawless introductions I’ve ever heard from a mere production standpoint. A dilated, mutated synth crashes in on the otherwise unremarkable midtempo rock a couple seconds in, only to bolster an extraordinary picked acoustic guitar sound which would be very much worthy of a New Pornographers session or one of the Pearl Jam ballads on Vs. or Vitalogy. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, this guy’s voice is just so COOL that it will relax a lot of listening fists all on its own. Just Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s luck: you can’t sue someone ‘cause their voice sounds like you, nor can you sue the listening public just ‘cause none of ‘em know that it’s you singing “Bohemian Like You.”
Is this what indie music is these days? These guys sound like they have the studio budget of Rick James. But it’s good.