The Sidekicks - Grace [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Sidekicks

Grace [7-inch] (2012)

Red Scare\

It's been a long wait for new Sidekicks material since 2009's fantastic Weight of Air. Sure they've given us little treats here and there, most notably that awesome Elvis Costello cover from last year's split with Tigers Jaw, but it's never really felt like the Sidekicks were completely back in action… until now. Coming a little over a month before their third full-length, Awkward Breeds, Grace is a delicious taste of things to come that finds the band both sticking with what they do best, and stretching their legs a little bit.

The opening title track isn't too far off from what we heard on Weight of Air, but finds vocalist Steve Ciolek (I thought it was Smith, but I guess now it's Ciolek) taking a slightly rougher vocal approach than what we heard on that album. The result is less immediately catchy than most of what is found on the band's last couple offerings, but a rewarding listening experience nonetheless, with plenty of "Oohs" and "Ahs" providing ear candy in the background.

"The Wallflowers" (Thankfully not an ode to nepotism's biggest contribution to '90s alt-rock) is a bouncy mid-tempo rocker and a stronger song overall than it's A-side. Piling hooks on top of more hooks is what the Sidekicks do best, and "The Wallflowers" is the best example of that on Grace.

The second half of Grace is dedicated to acoustic tracks reminiscent of the solo material Ciolek put up on MySpace a few years back (Track those songs down if you haven't), but with a few new tricks up their sleeve. Both "Stay" and "The 9th Piece" find Ciolek reaching higher vocally than we've heard him go thus far. It's amazing the range this young man possesses. Both tracks also share an affection for early Weezer. "Stay" in particular almost feels like a lost Pinkerton B-side. "The 9th Piece" is subtitled "Alternate Version," suggesting there may be a full-band version coming our way soon.

Grace is an enjoyable little EP which does its job of getting us excited for Awkward Breeds very well. It leaves you wanting more, which I imagine is exactly the point. It's been a long time coming and it feels great to finally have some new material from one of the finest young bands in the punk scene today. It feels even better knowing there's more to come soon.