By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Though Sakes may feel hemmed in by that noise-rock label, it's not an entirely unfair assessment of one part of Sicbay's sound -- but there's more to Sicbay than dissonant guitar and the strangled, almost desperate shouts that are a Sakes hallmark. Sicbay is also the marauding/roaming drum patterns Rodriguez builds up and then releases in buckshot outbursts, the carefully constructed streams of sound Erb and Sakes warp and weave around one another that are alternately abrasive and dulcet as the mood takes them.
They can uncork the 78-second fury of "Sink the Town," which is squalling guitars and a wicked dive-bomb riff not far removed from the Killmen's "Reactor," but they also accept the challenge of creating an eerie, tautly sketched story of a road trip to somewhere unwholesome and forbidding in "Matamoros." The latter shows the true strength of the band, with its flickering guitar work and Sakes' semimumbled snatches of lyrics that drift off into dark possibility as he draws out the chorus "When we get to Matamoros, we gonna rooooaaaammmmm." Rodriguez boils the tension with skip-beat drums and puddles of cymbal crash while Erb's guitar stabs through the night like a cyclopean headlight. It's the sort of song that comes when the members of a band listen to one another and not to the demands of radio focus groups, songwriting formulas or the perceived heat of famous producers.
"Matamoros" is the sound of a band free to create not because its members are tied to a record deal or a schedule or a financial responsibility to produce hits but because they want to make music with one another. Juggling jobs and families and other bands, the three musicians work together because they enjoy each other's company. "I don't think I could fill up my day with songwriting," Sakes says. "It's my hobby. It's what I do in my free time.... I don't base my success on making money from music. It's what I love to do. It gives me creative satisfaction. The pressure of making music to pay the bills would be high, and it would ruin it for me, I think. I can't imagine hanging out all day with Ed and Dave just trying to create music. As someone said, 'You can't manufacture inspirado.' I can imagine hanging out with Dave and Ed and eating frozen pizza and watching old SCTV reruns or Ernie Kovacs videos and cracking up at stuff until the wee hours -- good times."