Published Jul 27, 2016One of the most prolific bands in Ottawa over the last half-decade, the Steve Adamyk Band are back at it again with their fifth entry, Graceland. With the help of producer Adrian Popovich, the SAB have really nailed the warm, trebly '70s punk-driven power-pop sound after the coarser Dial Tone and Third albums before it. Adamyk and his ever-rotating backing band — now featuring members of Dirtnap label-mates Sonic Avenues of Montreal — are as tight or tighter than ever, save for some measures of deliberately placed sloppiness.
Among Graceland's standouts is "Carry On," a bittersweet anthem that features a soaring chorus, a sugary keyboard solo and a nice guest appearance by Los Angeles indie pop artist Colleen Green. Delightful harmonies and guitar work make "Broken Arms" one of Adamyk's best songs to date, while "Tell Me to Fall" and "She's on My Mind" also stick out among the album's melody-laden power-pop entries. Graceland delivers on the brash, riotous garage-punk front with "Die Dead Forever" and "Swallow You Whole," while making sure to always have a good hook.
Graceland occasionally suffers from repetition, whether it's a melody sung a few too many times with different words or a phrase sung a few too many times with different notes. Diehard fans of this particular style of punk might be used to being hit over the head with a line (maybe to some, that's a big part of the appeal), and it does often achieve its optimal effect (see "If I Wanted To"), but it's hard not to wonder sometimes (during a track like "Fallen Off," for example) how much more could have been built on a song's solid foundation.
This marks the Steve Adamyk Band's fifth full-length album in six years, and word is that a sixth is already in the works. This isn't necessarily a matter of "quantity over quality" though, as Adamyk has churned out a robust, fun and consistent catalogue even with relatively little turnaround time between records. What's more, Graceland is the band's most varied work to date.
But what if the band took a bit of extra time to really steep themselves in new material? This isn't to say that they've rushed through all their releases, but with the Steve Adamyk Band's experience, work ethic, motivation and earned prestige in the Canadian punk scene, a scrupulously crafted next effort could potentially produce something quintessential to the long-enduring genre. (Dirtnap)