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Album of the Month: Superviolet - Infinite Spring

When a longtime project comes to an end, where do you go next? What lies ahead on your creative horizons? Fans of Columbus, OH pop-rock stalwarts The Sidekicks were left to wonder this as the band announced their amicable dissolution last year, after over a decade of critical and audience adoration under their belts under the penmanship of frontman Steve Ciolek. With a significant part of his musical life (at least in name) now in the rearview, Ciolek takes up a new moniker and softer sound for his debut release under his new project, Superviolet.

Top-notch power-pop songcraft has always been at the forefront of Ciolek’s work with The Sidekicks, and that has not changed a bit as he moves beyond. With a former bandmate in Matt Climer on the drums, and longtime collaborator Zac Little (of fellow Columbus notables Saintseneca) as multi-instrumentalist and producer, Superviolet takes the Sidekicks stylings and smooths out the edges a little, trading pop-punk’s bombast and driving riffs for 60’s/70’s pop’s mellowness and layers. Ciolek’s songwriting prowess is crystal clear from the start, but especially in the one-two punch of early album tracks “Blue Bower” and “Big Songbirds Don’t Cry.” Both songs have a Beatles-like glow in their harmonies and agile guitar parts, playing not like pastiche but like fellow songsmiths pulling from the same captivating well. “Big Songbirds” is an especially high point on all fronts, from its midwestern-twist “Dear Prudence” fingerpicking to Ciolek’s vivid imagery of musical barflies and the feelings they hold, or hold back. Even with its folkier underpinnings, electricity still runs through the record like echoes of The Sidekicks material (which some of these songs started as years ago). “Locket” has a delightful skip to it and warm fuzzy guitars worming their way throughout, with Ciolek pondering surreally on thoughts of dreamt parenthood and misunderstanding of honesty.

The album’s title track fittingly holds what I believe to be the thesis behind this record. Ciolek starts with simple notes on how he used to write his songs, then builds up to talking fears and doubts, but throughout the song, a refrain rings out: “I’m doin’ it different now.” That “infinite spring” he talks about can mean many things, from the seemingly endless well of songs he draws from, to an eternal feeling of growth, of newness, of change. Whether he’s changing up the process of work, or changing how he faces the ups and downs of life’s unfolding, I think the whole concept of change is suiting Ciolek very well. The legacy of The Sidekicks will live on forever in hearts and minds of punks from the midwest and beyond, but through a different sound and shifted outlook, and with plenty of old friends still there along the way, Superviolet preserves Ciolek’s genuine talent for striking, heartfelt songwriting, and opens it up for it to bloom on.

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Evan Miller is a percussionist, lover of sound, and is probably buying too many cassette tapes online right now. Evan got his start in radio in 2012 at WWSU at Wright State University, where he was studying percussion performance. He followed through with both endeavors and eventually landed a lucrative dual career playing experimental music at home and abroad, and broadcasting those sounds to unsuspecting listeners Sunday nights on The Outside. Maintaining a connection to normal music, Evan also plays drums in bands around the area, and hosts WYSO's Midday Music show. When not doing something music-related, Evan is most likely listening to podcasts or watching food videos at home with his cat.