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Sick Of Sarah
Sick Of Sarah
Adamant Records
www.adamantrecords.com


In the vein of the animated movements of Australia's The Grates and the percolating rhythms of Rainer Maria, Sick Of Sarah's self-titled debut album brings out that kind of rock voltage which is youthful in spirit and uninhibited at lashing out. When Japanese-born lead vocalist Abisha Uhl seethes, "I hope that you're sinking" in the song "Hardest Part," she does it with a pounce that has a velvet-touch relatable to Jesca Hoop, while guitarists/backup vocalists Katie Murphy and Jessie Farmer move with a sassy sprint along the solid grooves of bassist Jamie Holm and drummer Brooke Svanes. The band's self-titled album has some old school punk reminiscent of The Pretenders, and a lot of new school emo-rock reflective of Sleater-Kinney.

"Breakdown" hits stylish emo-rock summits and slopes like Sleater-Kinney, but it's Uhl's zealous vocals that shape the tune's form. The music acts as a support for Uhl's vocals which bow-out and constrict spontaneously giving tracks like "Daisies" and "Bittersweet" their emotive fringes. There is no rhyme or reason to Uhl's strategy in forming her vocal melodies, she sings from an impulsive gut-feeling that puts an animated personality in these songs. The anxiousness in her vocals through "Not Listening" puts listeners on the edge of their seat, waiting for Uhl to really blow up as the heavy drumbeats and teasing guitar chords build up waves of tension.

The melodic trimmings of "Give Me A Reason" are garnished in springy beats, but the album takes a turn into soft-pop ravines with "Fall." Uhl's vocals have a light-footed stride as the wispy acoustic guitars frame her voice tenderly. The song is perfectly tailored to expose forlorn love as the faint strings provide overtones of solace. Picking up speed, the album plows through a series of punk-inspired rock tunes like "Hardest Part" and "Mr. Incredible" which fire off like a row of rockets. The band returns to a balladry drift in "Common Mistake" and "Paint Like That" before closing with the flying sparks and flexing movements of "Breakdown."

Sick Of Sarah come out of the gate strong with their self-titled debut album. A huge part of the songs rest on Uhl's shoulders as she directs the movements and fashions the shapes of the tunes. It's an album that encourages lashing out and exposing honest feelings, and Uhl makes each one sound specific to its lyrical content. Starting out in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sick Of Sarah have been steadily making their way into punk rock's inner-circle, and are presently scheduled to play shows well into 2009.

-Susan Frances

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