Sideburn defines its pure rock identity with Jail
By Thom Copher
"Live to Rock," the opening track from Sideburn's new album, Jail, is much more than the adrenaline-pumping kick-starter that it may
appear to be on the surface. It is a declaration that establishes the attitude for the eleven accompanying tunes as well as being an
apparent statement of purpose by one of rock's strongest and most consistent bands of the past decade. In a nutshell, PURE ROCK IS
Jail is the successor to 2008's Cherry Red album which enjoyed not only global success
in the long-player format - it was also included on this past season's soundtrack for the
Kiefer Sutherland TV drama 24 as well as being selected for the immensely popular Rock
Band 3 video game. Your average band might be pretty hard pressed to follow up on
that success, but Sideburn is far from your average band.
The first thing that is obvious with Jail is that the overall ambiance is HUGE. It's not
a case of a catchy hook here or a memorable chorus there. In the great Aussie-style
pub-rock tradition, arena-rousing anthems abound: "The Red Knight," "Kiss of Death,"
the title track "Jail" and the aforementioned "Live to Rock" lay the groundwork for a
disc which is stocked with fist-banging mania. Too, the guitar interplay throughout
between lead string-slinger, Boris, and rhythm meister, Fred Gudit, demonstrates the
delicate balance between coordination and individuality that defines a great two-axe
Now, while Jail is unquestionably sound from start to finish, there are several
nuggets which - by description - may be considered as adventurous standouts.
"One Night Stand" features an infectious split-chord chorus, the likes of which
has rarely been heard on the rock circuit for far too long - most excellent
fretwork on this one! Deeply rooted rockabilly abounds on "Chase the Rainbow" -
too, a path seldomly explored but certainly effective here. "Long Beard and
Boogie" visits a ZZ Top-esque delve into Southern Rock boogie while "Creedence
Vibe" goes next-door to the bayou, paying homage to acknowledged band fave
CCR. Digging deeply into the band's lineage, the compact punch of "Good Boy"
reminisces Judas Priest's immortal "Hell Bent For Leather."
Vocalist Roland Pierrehumbert possesses, without question, one of the most unique
voices in rock today. Traversing the course from melodic to downright gritty, his
vocal performance throughout can be synopsized in one word: passionate. In many
Sideburn: Lionel Blanc (drums), Fred Gudit (rhythm guitar), Roland
Pierrehumbert (vocals), Michel Demierre (bass) and Boris (lead guitar)
ways, Roland - at this stage in Sideburn's history - is reminiscent of one Bon Scott at the Highway to Hell juncture. Michel Demierre -
what more compliment can you give a bassist than "rock solid"? Drummer Lionel Blanc investigates the possibilities of the 4/4 beat, adding
taste and variety throughout but never venturing into the realm of gaudiness. Lionel's key - the snare is always there, and that is the
seed from which all things swing with good, tight boogie-rock.
Sideburn has without apology (since redefining itself from the metal outfit Genocide in the mid-1990s) explored its AC/DC-Rose
Tattoo-Krokus roots. The product, Jail, is - for lack of a better term - the band's resulting claim to its own identity. Credit veteran
producer Beau Hill (Ratt, Twisted Sister, Warrant - et al) who, by band accounts served more as facilitator than dictator, for guiding
Sideburn to its definition-to-date performance. The end tally is what many, including myself, are predicting to be album-of-the-year in
the rock category.
|To the right, the exclusive HMH
interview with Sideburn
Drummer Lionel Blanc. Great
talking with my good friend
about the making of Jail with
cool insight to this great band!
Click HERE for larger version.