I have to admit that I'm an apologist for end-of-the-year lists only because I like to see if there's something I missed throughout the year. However I dislike having to compile my own...because I'm afraid there's going to be something I miss from throughout the year. However when my employers ask me to again create some end of the year lists of the best albums of 2012 I can guarantee that one album I will not forget is Hard On Romance by Sidewalk Dave.
New Haven's Sidewalk Dave could be a case study in band progression. Every release from Dave and his somewhat rotating cast of characters has its own feel or vibe to it. For Hard On Romance the vibe is one word: dirty. From the double entendre album title to the artwork to the lyrics to the gritty guitars and nasty-good production this album is just dirty. And I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. If you're going to write songs about bad break-ups or how many women you have (theoretically?) been with you better have the right sound and attitude. For Sidewalk Dave, mission accomplished.
This album just seethes a nasty vibe and sound that you would expect to hear emanating from the best dive bars in the bowels of the most artistic cities. I hate calling a band's efforts "mature" because that implies their previous work is, what, "immature"? But this really is a band that continues to grow and expand their sound so that every new album is their best. The Blues play a big influence here but it's just one coat of paint over a canvas of sounds that draw from such varied artists as The Stooges, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Weezer and even moments of Pink Floyd just to name a few. However you want to classify it though (I've seen "rock", "folk rock", "alt rock", etc.) doesn't really matter because whatever label you try to put on this band they will always transcend it. This album is no exception.