Sick of Sarah | s/t (Adamant)

sickofsarahthumb.jpgSick of Sarah nails the straightforward appeal of radio friendly pop in the vein of Michelle Branch but strips away all banality with a centrifuge of confidence, replacing it with stout Upper Midwestern heart.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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What’s kicking around in the Minneapolis’ genetic stock that favors a predisposition towards dual natured artists? The city seems to specialize in raising rock n roll souls, stuffing them into basement rock clubs, but endowing them with the secret hearts of sensitive singer/songwriters. Sick of Sarah are borne of this fine tradition, equally at home pumping out rhythmic, riffy indie rock and tender, acoustic fare.
“Give Me a Reason” uses skittering drums and to craft a compact package that’d be equally at home on stage in a stuffy bar and on “adult alternative” radio. “Not Listening” bristles with the punky fervor of Pretty Girls Make Graves, but never abandons the charm and tunefulness that finds its way into every corner of the album. Small touches such as the plaintive violin of “Fall” or the faint strains of organ in the wistful “Paint Like That,” go a long way towards elevating these and other ballads above generic coffeehouse fare, infusing them with unguarded, heartfelt sentiment.
The record does falter a bit, especially near the end; “Common Mistake” and “Mr. Incredible” feel like afterthoughts, very much chunky alt. rock by numbers. Thankfully, the album finishes strongly, with the stomping, spitting “Breakdown.” The unifying element is Abisha Uhl’s beguiling voice, singing with a wonderful trill, Chrissie Hynde by way of Avril Lavigne (I shit thee not). Her vocals are, much like Sick of Sarah as a whole, too nice to sneer, but too vicious to be wholly sweet.
Sick of Sarah nails the straightforward appeal of radio friendly pop in the vein of Michelle Branch but strips away all banality with a centrifuge of confidence, replacing it with stout Upper Midwestern heart. This is a promising, assured band that’s poised for greater success; let’s hope that the inevitable jump to a bigger label doesn’t do the group a disservice by playing up their mainstream tendencies and glossing them over into oblivion. B | Mike Rengel
 
RIYL: The Breeders; wiry, Ted Leo-esque angularity; early 2000s lady singer/songwriters
 

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