Friday, August 26, 2016

New Steve Adamyk Band album!

When it comes to singers and songwriters in the present-day punk world, Steve Adamyk has to be considered one of the most underappreciated talents out there. He's such a consistent creator of top-notch powerpop/punk that a lot of people take it for granted when he turns out yet another fantastic album. Fair or not, there's a perception that Adamyk essentially makes the same (great) record over and over. He finally seems poised to shed that rep with Graceland - his fifth album fronting the Steve Adamyk Band (out now on Dirtnap Records). Much to my delight, he accomplishes this without dramatically altering his approach to songwriting.

If you like catchy & ultra-energetic tunes that blur the line between punk rock and power pop, Graceland won't leave you wanting. Opening cut "Though My Fingers" can only be described as "classic" Steve Adamyk Band, and longtime fans will delight in heavily caffeinated racers like "If I Wanted To" and "Lose Control". But while Adamyk certainly would have been capable of delivering another first-rate album without leaving his lane, Graceland finds him majorly benefiting from some subtle changes in approach. "Give It Away" is similar to so many of Adamyk's top songs of the past - but with a less frenzied tempo and more breathing room for the hooks. "Carry On" and "Broken Arms" are pretty much pure power pop - and they're absolutely great! The entire back half of the album in particular hints at something close to a "new" sound for the band - with sprinklings of keyboards and inventive guitar/bass work infusing Adamyk's signature melodic punk style with a modern, new wave influenced feel. "High Mile", with its many layers and darker tone, is unlike anything we've ever heard from the Steve Adamyk Band. Yet it totally works - bringing to mind classic punk bands like the Buzzcocks that managed to indulge their experimental cravings without fully losing the plot. And the super-poppy, synth-infused "She's On My Mind" is a perfect example of why this is such a successful record. Rather than completely reinvent himself as a musician, Adamyk has chosen to add new dimensions that serve to complement what he already does so well. While never in doubt, his skills as a songwriter are really shining in a new light.

This is already my fourth time reviewing a Steve Adamyk Band album, and it has me hoping I'll get to review a whole lot more! If the distinction between previous albums largely came down to feel (e.g. Third was Adamyk's "punk" album; Dial Tone was his "garage" album), Graceland comes off as genuinely different from its predecessors. It still sounds like a Steve Adamyk record - just not one that you've heard before. Perhaps it's because I'm such a pop guy, but I consider this Adamyk's best work since Forever Won't Wait. Seriously: listen to "Carry On". If you're not digging it, I'm not sure we can remain friends.


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