Ottawa’s Steve Adamyk Band had more than one new thing to boast about after completing their fourth full-length album. While the band is declaring Dial Tone their “garage rock masterpiece,” it’s also the first time the band has released an LP that has the same line up as the one that came before.
It’s an accomplishment lead Steve Adamyk had been hoping for since the band’s inception—having long grown frustrated with lackluster commitment in other projects. This time around, as the group headed to Oakland, CA to record with Matthew Melton (Warm Soda, Bare Wires), Davey Quenselle, Dave Forcier and Sebastian Godin were back for another turn in the studio along with guests Melton and Danielle Agnew (Primitive Hearts).
Having categorized their full-length releases as an evolution from pop with Forever Won’t Wait to punk on Third, the latest strips away some of the punchy in-and-out from their more punk-driven releases without losing an appreciation for short, octane-fuelled tracks that know not to overstay their welcome. The hints of pop punk are still dribbled throughout Dial Tone, appearing in surprising places like “Suicide,” a darkly named track that brings up the familiar urge to get moving that comes with any new music from the quartet.
Other tracks, like “Crash Course in Therapy” and “You’re the Antidote,” offer the staple garage rock you’d expect. But wedged between those tracks are a handful of songs where the band finds a way to fuse their three distinct sounds in a four-song journey that blends pop and punk with their new clean-cut direction.
“M.R.I.” steadily plods through the intro before plunging into a racing chorus, adding a hypnotic twist to the way Adamyk belts out his fuzzy vocals. Coming out of that crashing finale is “Last In Town,” which opens with the vaguely tongue-in-cheek “Did you know I’ve never been to war?” as it induces motion. “Empty Cause” feels like an extension of this, with the exception of a bouncy guitar riff that adds some much needed pop to the mix. “Waiting For The Top” is sparse on lyrics, but it’s a full frontal assault of energy that never lets up in the two-plus minutes it races past with its siren-like guitar.
“Anne” picks up where some of this leaves off and “Mirror Ball” brings some warmth with its chorus of “Oh ohs” and a surf-rock touch. As “Never Gonna (Ever)” strikes its first chords, it’s obvious the album is winding to a gentler close. While the distortion continues, the pacing slows and brings things neatly to an end while holding firm to that garage rock mentality.
Dial Tone comes across as a tidier version of Steve Adamyk Band when compared to their previous releases, but the life never goes out of the songs. Still, it’s when the band mixes their different directions together that things really pick up, especially while throwing back to punchy lyrics and energetic rhythms that just make you want to thrash around in a way that looks as fun as it sounds.
Top Tracks: “Last In Town”; “Waiting For The Top”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)