Aden Topsiders

With band members scattered in different locations, the Chicago-founded Aden finally settled in New York City to sculpt this, their fourth full-length release. Jeff Gramm's singing and songwriting style has definitely matured, and he even gets some help from guitarist Kevin Baker on a couple of songs. Freely admitting to a list of influences that include Steely Dan and Blue Oyster Cult, the end result in their sound comes across as an odd form of gentle guitar pop. Unlike their last albums, the songs on Topsiders are more diverse and definitely more polished, but lack solid hooks. Tracks like "Pop Song" and "The Chase" make an impact, but some of the extended jams and heavy use of banjo at other points make it lose steam somewhat. Perhaps too much time was spent learning to perfect their studio techniques, since the band opted to handle the recording duties themselves for the first time. They did fine with the recording, but the songs just don't seem as strong as with their previous work. Still, there are some nice moments on the album, and it is good to hear their sound develop. This is by no means a bad album; it just doesn't leave a strong impression. (TeenBeat)