Tracking down regional music years after the fact can often be a challenge, but luckily there have been enterprising collectors putting their own money on the line and creating limited edition reissues for just about as long as the LP format has been around. The fact that a large amount of these reissues originate overseas never fails to amaze me; the Europeans and Japanese often seem to have equal, if not far more, interest in archiving our musical past as those of us in America.
Which brings us in a roundabout way to Milwaukee, spring 1981, when power pop/'60s-styled combo The Sidewalks released their lone single, "Natalie"/"Whoever Said That You Was Cool." It generated a bit of noise, selling well in the area and gaining some college radio play. Despite working on other studio recordings, the band only managed to see one more song released on a radio compilation, shortly before they broke up for good in 1983.
So, how did this obscure Wisconsin band end up with a deluxe vinyl reissue through Italian label Rave Up Records? Probably due to exposure by the website/CD-R reissue label Hyped 2 Death, which has done for obscure local punk and power pop releases what the Pebbles series did for '60s garage. Kudos go to all for making this music finally available, as the album presents a solid slice of Midwest garage pop.
The super catchy title track "Rhythm Kids" is an ode not to holding down the beat but to holding down the population in the family planning style recommended by the Catholic church. The band's other songs take on often familiar power pop tropes in a similarly irreverent fashion. Fans of '80s Madison band The Other Kids or more recent ones like The Midwest Beat would be well served in checking out The Sidewalks as well; several other songs are posted on their MySpace page.
After the band's breakup, lead vocalist/guitarist Dan Kwas left music behind and only recently began recording again; his 2007 release A Life Too Long Forgotten has picked up several "Track of the Day" awards on GarageBand.com. (Rave Up Records; also available on CD from Hyped 2 Death, 2008)