Sometimes calling something the “[insert record label]” sound is meant in a derisive way. Before the clichés came home, however, it was also used to complement a label’s stable for having some unique defining qualities. That’s where Steve Adamyk Band fits with their Dirtnap Records home. The general style that SAB plays can be summed up in a few distinct qualifiers like “garage punk,” “melodic,” “power-pop,” and “punk.” Oftentimes, Mark Ryan’s projects, such as Marked Men can serve as a base of stylistic comparison.
And those are all relevant descriptors when discussing Ottawa’s Steve Adamyk Band.
Third is the group’s, well, third outing and second for Dirtnap. While it bears leader Steve Adamyk’s name, which is mostly reflective of the rotating cast of backing musicians rather than a vanity or solo project. At the core of the band is a ’77 punk-inspired take on modern garage-punk. It’s got the sloppiness and strong chorus focal point of today’s garage scene, but the guitars that give the songs their unique enthusiasm involve an element of sleazy licks that lead into the vocal melodies and then, ultimately, culminate in a harmonized echo. Or, to simplify that even more, take the Marked Men’s speed and add some punk rock flourishes and attitude. Only 5 of 12 songs top 2 minutes and four are under 70 seconds. It’s super-catchy and very forward, direct rock. There’s no messing around with structures, keys, or time signatures, instead thriving on the basic elements and highlighting the strength of a solid core. While it has a somewhat sugary disposition to the sound (a result of the harmonies), the lyrics take a different turn.
“Had a Heartattack” gets things moving quickly with a punchy chorus and big hooks that follow the lead of a tight rhythm section. There is group singing in the choruses, but it’s closer to harmonizing than any kind of gang vocals, with the vocal element consistently complementing the songs without overpowering the other elements. Third is a well-balanced attack with the hooks in the forefront of the songwriting but only by a very slim margin to the vocal and rhythmic elements. On the comparisons to other bands front, something in “Set It Up,” has a bit of speedy, call-and-response Riverboat Gamblers vibe and “My Enemy,” with its whoa-ohs, pulls from the punk rock canon, as do the calls of “don’t want to be another victim/ I’ll never sign the dotted line” in “Another Victim.”
It’s good stuff with a consistent tone that blends pleasant melodies with rebellious themes. If there’s a fault here it comes in the similarity between many of the songs, as the vocals (both from Adamyk and band) tend to register in the same tones throughout the twelve songs and it can run together. Their brevity helps overcome this, but a little more mixing it up would definitely push it up a couple of pegs as long as it sticks true to its base elements of forward-looking garage-punk.
7.5 / 10
Posted June 26, 2016, 9:25 p.m.
Steve Adamyk Band will soon release a new LP on July 29. Titled Graceland, the record will be issued by Dirtnap Records.
Posted June 27, 2014, 7:36 p.m.
Steve Adamyk Band's Dial Tone is now streaming online. The LP releases on July 1 on Dirtnap records and is the follow-up to last year's Third.
Posted May 30, 2014, 11:12 p.m.
On July 1, Steve Adamyk Band will release their fourth full-length, Dial Tone. The band has released a teaser song, "Crash Course in Therapy," embedded below. It will be issued ...
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