Sideways Reign claims to be "a band representative of the artistic sensibilities of the masses." It may seem at first a brazen claim, but I think it's actually fairly accurate. The unfortunate irony, though, is that the masses don't have much in the way of artistic sensibility.
Sounding quite a bit like the late-1990s band Dispatch, Sideways Reign offers a blend of blues, rock and reggae that is well played, but could use a boost of originality and a touch of finesse.
That being said, A Stand for All Stages does have its high points. Lead singer Justin Stang boasts a gravelly, gritty, cigarettes-and-whiskey voice, which effectively livens up limp lyrics. And, while the band's bar-chord-driven tunes are fairly predictable, there are some shining guitar moments: The bluesy, electric solo in "Oxygen" stands out, as does the soaring instrumental "C2h2." The lone acoustic tune, "Love Song Suicide," showcases a refreshingly different sound, which the band ought to consider pursuing.
While at times a bit clunky, Sideways Reign does display musical skill. Perhaps even more of the masses will appreciate the band as its artistic sensibilities develop.
Sideways Reign plays the Top Hat Tuesday, Mar. 2, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.