Album review: Sidewalk Driver's 'For All the Boys and Girls'

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Friday, December 17, 2010

In tie-dyed 1972, playing sprightly pop-rock while wearing gold or silver lamé are not supposed to use accent marks in general but is necessary here was widely considered outrageous. It's a lot less scandalous these days, yet Sidewalk Driver manages to retain something of glam-rock's edge. The Boston quintet's debut album, "For All the Boys and Girls," emulates David Bowie in style and themes, flirting with bisexuality and gender reassignment - as topics, at least - in "Jenny Don't Really Like the Boys." Yet if frontman Tad McKitterick accidently locked his capes and platform shoes in the van, what would be left is a solid power-pop band.

The album includes two songs that open simply with McKitterick's piano and vocals, recalling Bowie's cabaret side. But then the tunes swell to arena-rocking size, with massed vocals and instrumental duels between guitarists Jared Egan and Kate Murdoch. More often, the quintet evokes the great (or at least engaging) bands that thrived in its home town about 30 years ago. From the tick-tock guitars of "Dancing With Her Friends" to the opening hand claps of "Radio," the band jubilantly regresses to the days of the Cars, the Sidewinders and the Real Kids. In other words, there's nothing new here - except the energy and ingenuity that keep reinvigorating rock-and-roll.

- Mark Jenkins

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