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Be On My Side - Teenage Kicks


LABEL: Rezolute Music Inc.
RELEASE DATE: 11.13.12
FORMATS: Physical, Digital

Band Members

Peter van Helvoort: Vocals, Guitar
Jeff van Helvoort: Vocals, Bass
Keegan Powell: Guitar
Cameron Brunt: Drums


The last decade has been curiously absent of a few things - loud guitars, slamming drums, and powerful front-men. These three things are, by and large, key elements in defining the sound of "rock and roll." So, by this logic, it would be safe to say that rock and roll has been notably absent for the majority of the past decade.

What these factors have been sacrificed for are things that are far more fleeting, and a sound that is better suited to impersonal, anonymous dance clubs than intimate, energetic, unpredictable rock shows. This is music akin to a one night stand - meaningless, empty and, more often than not, something you look back on embarrassedly, afraid to admit you indulged in such an act.

Teenage Kicks are the exact opposite of that. Their music is like the girl you meet in high school that you end up marrying ten years later. Their songs stay with you, and you grow to love more about them as time goes by. It's not a backdrop for drunken twenty-somethings awkwardly lusting after each other in dark clubs, but a soundtrack for young hearts finding true love and sharing moments that will stay with them forever. In a nutshell, it's rock and roll.

The band's debut EP, Rational Anthems, provided that soundtrack; a record full of unforgettable melodies leading a charge backed by stadium-sized guitars and exploding drums, with an overall tone that painted a vivid picture of nostalgic, end of summer gatherings just as easily as it could be played in a convertible on a long drive down an empty highway.

The Kicks' latest record, Be On My Side, reflects on those moments with older, wiser eyes and ears. The six-song EP finds the group expanding beyond the grungey power-pop of the first release, exploring more melodic territory than ever before. It is the sound of a band more sure of itself - and understandably so, after a seemingly never-ending string of enviable gigs with the likes of Sloan, Kaiser Chiefs, Arkells, The Sheepdogs, Monster Truck, Dinosaur Bones and more.

Some downtime occurred in between countless shows around southern Ontario and the recording of Be On My Side - most of which was, in true DIY fashion, produced by frontman Peter Van Helvoort himself. No one could argue the fact that the band has stepped it up significantly on this new batch of tunes. The band, rounded out by bassist Jeff Van Helvoort, guitarist Patrick Marchent and drummer Cameron Brunt - sounds unstoppably powerful on instant classics like "Middle Of The Night" and the revamped version of crowd favourite "Shook Our Bones," but they don't sacrifice their pop sensibility or tuneful nuances for muscle alone.

The complex arrangements on opener "Setting Son," with its interwoven guitars and delicate harmonies, work to further cement Peter Van Helvoort's reputation as a song writing force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere, the Kicks make an effort to stretch beyond the arena-ready bangers they're known for, particularly on the bluesy shuffle of the album's closer, "You Shall Not Want."

Shortly before Be On My Side’s release The band unveiled the Teenage Kicks Singles Club, a service that will deliver two new songs to subscribers every few months - a canny marketing tool as well as a genuine way to connect with fans in the digital age. Add an innovative way to share music to the Kicks' acute sense of what makes songs stick with listeners and you have a phenomenon on your hands. "It's a way for us to get our music out to our fans without them having to wait however long for our albums to come out," Van Helvoort points out. "We've got so many songs in the archives, some of which we've been playing for years, but they just haven't shown up on our albums. So instead of letting them fade into obscurity, we wanted to share them all with whoever wants to listen to them, for free." In a perfect world, Teenage Kicks would be ushering in a new wave of bands who are sick of the trite, contrived music passed off as rock and roll for the past decade, but even if this revolution never happens, we should count our blessings that we have Be On My Side - an incendiary record that instantly reminds us of all the reasons rock music is such an enduring art form in the first place.


“Brawny blend of tambourine bashing, guitar grit, and headbanging.” - Exclaim! Magazine


April 26th 2012 by Naedoo for Herohill.com

It’s an odd thing to say, but my affection for a particular album can result in a review or post dedicated to said album going up much, much later than it should. Seems odd to essentially punish a record I like, but this happens because I want to find the time to write something half-coherent about it, and of course that time never comes.

The latest record to retrieve such treatment is Teenage Kicks latest EP/Album Be On My Side. I’ve already posted about the band’s Singles Club and my fondness for the first single from the album, Middle of the Night but I’d intended to have a full review up before they played here in Halifax at the end of last month. Ooops, and also ugh. But here’s what you need to know: Be On My Side is simply a great rock & roll record, I have played the bejesus out of it for the last couple months, and you should hear it.

One of the main points that I was originally trying to formulate this post/review around, was the notion that albums that are overtly catchy or too “radio-friendly” (to use a term that will make us all cringe), are often given short shrift by music enthusiasts on the ol’ Internet. This is certainly over-simplifying things, but it’s hard to deny that claiming to enjoy the latest challenging, bizarre or just flat out “different” record getting love from the Polaris cool kids allows you to claim musical superiority over the “who the fuck is Bon Eye-ver?!?!?!” masses.

Luckily for me, the Ack tackled some of these themes in a much more concise manner than I could with his Joel Plaskett/Scrappy Happiness post earlier today, singing the virtues of embracing your influences and making sing-along rock record that’s full of heart and enthusiasm.

Heart and enthusiasm, yes. Cockrock-style caterwauling, no. Peter Van Helvoort happens to have a great voice, powerful & soulful, but he uses it to pump out snarling, soulful hooks that bring to mind not a preening front man on an arena stage, but a dude belting out sweaty tunes in a garage with his friends. The six songs on this album all have the echo-y guitars unabashedly cranked up past ten and a fantastic rhythm section jet-propelling them along. “Setting Son”, “I Get What You Give”, “Middle of the Night” and “Setting Son” will all shake your fillings loose with tales of unrequited love, childhood memories, and even the fellowship amongst musicians.

So to recap, Teenage Kicks = guitars, hooks & heart – who couldn’t use a healthy dose of that from time to time? Go ahead...give it a go!

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