It’s easy to get off to a bad start with The Smoking Rolo Sideshow as they pretentiously describe themselves as ‘proudly independent, and boasting all the self-assured swagger that such an accomplishment brings’. So do they live up to their pretence?
The fact is that ’Sideshow are challenging. This isn’t surprising given that their line-up is twenty musicians strong containing every instrument imaginable. They sound like a disturbing hybrid of indie and hard rock with a bit of folk and 80s nostalgia thrown in for good measure, and there’s something distinctly artistic about their dirty grooves and heavy bass with melodic undertones.
Unfortunately their daring experimentation is also their downfall. It’s hard to find your way without a compass when clean guitar picking gives way to blast beats whilst screeching vocals drop to a slurred melody. For all of its diversity the album ultimately loses its course as all of the contrasting elements pull away from each other and the listener is left to chase them down the street in all directions. ’Sideshow are difficult, and that alone makes this album worth a listen.