According to one school of thought, shoegaze rock is defined as "droning riffs, subdued vocals and walls of distorted, messy guitar or synth". Los Angeles band Sidewave has taken this definition and put their unique stamp on it, dragging it into the 21st century. Sidewave's new album is entitled 'Glass Giants'; it's scheduled to be released on October 5, 2015.
The members of Sidewave include: Phil Golyshko, who provides vocals and guitars; Williaam Collins on guitar and synthesizer; Matt Russell on bass and vocals; and Brandon Dickert on drums. Each member of the group complements the others with excellent musicianship. Especially Dickert on the drums, who demonstrates an extraordinary feel for his instrument: heavy drumming, a la John Bonham, along with tasteful use of his crash cymbals.
Sidewave's sound is reminiscent of Pink Floyd and the Smashing Pumpkins, with occasional Tool-like flourishes. Yet even though the influences exist, Sidewave has their own sound, one that has an easy intimacy draping from it.
'Glass Giant' consists of twelve tracks. All are good. That's right, not a single shabby song. The two treasures on the album are 'Supersonic' and 'This Is Who You Are.' The latter song starts out simply, almost laid-back, and then ramps up the guitars and synthesizer to a level that makes no pretense to stoic resignation. The music is strong and heavy, but the band avoids the abyss of too much layering. Instead, they rely on deliberate instrumentation and a balanced melody that serves to carry the song.
The other treasure, 'Supersonic,' is simultaneously trippy and stylish, resonating with tantalizing influences from both Pink Floyd and the Smashing Pumpkins. Golyshko's voice floats beneath the music, almost overwhelmed, but not quite. The effect is ethereal.
Speaking of Golyshko's voice, it doesn't soar. Rather it's so elegant and undemanding that it accomplishes something remarkable: it goes to an extreme and beyond and becomes almost tender, providing the perfect accompaniment to the music. In other words, Golyshko's voice is an example of the completion backward principle: steady, harmonious singing trumps belting it out.
Other notable songs on the album are 'Honest To God,' and 'Lace.' 'Honest To God,' a substantial space rocker, displays Dickert's drums to their best advantage, including double accents on the snare drum that really stand out. In contrast, 'Lace' encompasses the surf's up sensibility of the 1960s, almost as if the Beach Boys decided to do alternative rock.
On 'Glass Giant', Sidewave has taken the space rock and shoegaze rock of the 1990s, put it through a 21st century translator and produced a restructured, renewed genre of music, one they can call theirs.
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