Album Spotlight: The Sideways - "Upright"

>>If you didn’t realize that summer was here you could have stepped outside your door and felt the sun melting your soul. Or you could have just put on The Sideways first major release and done the same thing.

Upright shout summer at the top of its lungs, drowning out the disparities of 2020 with a collage of heavenly horns and bouncy bass lines. The Sideways was made for outdoor amphitheater sounds, cascading through a place like Art Park, making your body refuse to sit down and dancing mandatory.

The album’s first track is of the same name as the album and from the outset you are hooked. The downbeat piano starts off the track in a familiar good mood as the horns kick in. Most would call it ska, but that term might not be the most accurate fit for this group, although the horns have a classic 90’s ska band feel to it. But much like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, it’s just as much rock and roll with horns as anything else. There’s an immediate DIY feeling to it, but not to the music’s detriment, but rather to its allure, a Big D and the Kid’s Table umami.

The next song on the album, Julianne, shows off the band’s diversity feeling a bit more like a cross breed between Billy Joel and Paul Simon. The driving beat breakdown around the 3:30 mark is pure Simon and feels like the song could have been released years ago. That timelessness isn’t a mistake, this is good song writing from a group of really talented musicians. The vocals are strong and emotional, without a drip of Broadway, much like Billy Joel, who always felt like he was singing in his garage versus the stage. It’s a good thing, a way to keep the rock and roll fans seated directly in front of the stage without losing the presence.

Seater (About Our Last Fight) is a funky and fun track that further shows the band is capable of slight variations in sound, even in its infancy. That’s followed by DVD, a slower almost ballad type song that is slightly reminiscent of something Chicago might have done. The track has a seventies love song vibe and feels like it should be listened to with a glass of red on a cool evening by candlelight. The brief trumpet solo at 2:30 that flirts back and forth with a twinkling piano is great musicianship and perfectly breaks the song up to provide a bridge long enough to get you ready for the last chorus.

The EP ends with Missing You, which provides for a bit of a surprise on first listen, and End of the Night, a track that sounds much likes its title. This is a solid EP, a brilliant output by a big band full of talent. It’s mixed and recorded well, produced and written well, and has both a new big band feel alongside feeling timeless. This is an album that you do not want to overlook, jump on the bandwagon because The Sideways are about to take you for a ride.