Jeff Rosenstock was an anxious kid who grew into an anxious adult and has also made a bunch of music along the way with a bunch of bands, most notably Bomb the Music Industry! who apparently pioneered giving shit away for free on the internet – or at least got some of the credit for it. Now he plays with his bi-coastal band of rad musicians, mixing punk heart with diverse instrumentation and occasional accuracy.
In place of a more traditional year-end best-of list, Talkhouse has asked some of our favorite artists to choose their favorite album of 2018 and tell us all about it.
—The Talkhouse Team
The first time I truly remember hanging out with The Sidekicks was in 2007. Bomb The Music Industry was playing at their house, The Soggy Dog house in Columbus, Ohio, and that tour was important for us. It was the tour where we met a lot of the people that we still stay in touch with to this day, and The Sidekicks are one of those bands. We stayed at their house, we played in their basement, and then we played a few shows with them on the East Coast where it was just me, and John DeDomenici, and an iPod.
They were already a great punk band back then, but then they just, jumped, like, 100 levels and became a great rock band. They put out Weight of Air and I was just like, “What the fuck?” The lyrics were really good, and the songs were really interesting, and after that we got even closer. Bomb the Music Industry toured with them again, I ended up putting out the vinyl version of Awkward Breeds, and we’ve just been friends for a really, really long time. And even though we’re friends, somehow, every record they’ve put out is my favorite record.
I think that’s something that is really nice about this little world, that I feel like my friends keep putting out my favorite records. AJJ does that, and Laura Stevenson does that, and The Sidekicks always do that. I just feel lucky that we’re hanging out with friends who just keep making records where I’m like, “Oh shit, your record’s better than the last record that came out.” And that’s true of Happiness Hours. They somehow keep writing better songs. And if you keep writing good songs, you can’t plateau. They’ve found a way to keep growing sonically while still writing songs that are somehow even better than the already great ones they’ve written.
With Happiness Hours in particular, there are just songs on it like “Don’t Feel Like Dancing” and “Weed Tent” and “Twin’s Twist,“ that are just like so immediate and danceable but are still punk songs. It’s really hard to pin down their sound, because they’re not doing anything in some cliché way. It reminds me so much of Thin Lizzy, and just all this great ‘70s punk and ‘70s rock stuff, but The Sidekicks don’t just follow the tropes that other bands do. They’re very much making all those sounds their own, and that’s a hard thing to do. How do you write something that feels new and exciting for you? Happiness Hours has that because it just feels like a band going in and banging out some songs.
I think a lot of songwriters talk about craft, but I don’t give a fuck about any of that. I just want it to feel good—I want it to excite me. With The Sidekicks, I go into their records as a fan. I feel lucky that I’m friends with bands that put out records that I still want to listen to. And I always want to listen to The Sidekicks. And that’s something you really can’t put a price on.
As told to David Anthony.