Some of the best music represents both side of a given coin.
On their latest single "Digger," released on Oct. 29 as part of their second full-length album, "Total Reflection," South Korean rockers Eastern Sidekick somehow simultaneously sound out-of-control and tightly wound.
It's a not-insignificant balance, and they strike it with aplomb to spare.
Formed in 2010, the Seoul-based hard rockers are in top form all throughout "Total Reflection," but "Digger" is the clear standout from that album of fierce cuts. The song opts towards a middle path that doesn't quite hem towards the piston-pumping sounds of Motorhead, but doesn't languish in the snail-paced tempos of Black Sabbath either.
Instead, Eastern Sidekick indulge in a some sort of tough compromise, preferring to engage with a sauntering groove that very nearly swings, while remaining unerringly "rock." But while drummer Geun Chang Park keeps that beat on the rails, the closest thing the song has to an instrumental melody is a wild snake charmer of a guitar riff, high up on the neck and screaming.
Guitarist and main songwriter Hangyul Ko wrings these high pitched squeals from his guitar as if he was trying to kill it, and it creates a contrast with the stone-cold drumming on "Digger."
Two sides of the same coin, fire and ice, coming together to create something quite a bit more preferable than lukewarm water (for any of you Spinal Tap fans out there). The song's verses and choruses plow ahead with a cruel indifference, maintaining the tightrope between wild abandon and cold control.
That is, until the bridge occurs.
A bridge is a funny thing. It might mean a key change, or it might not appear at all. In the case of "Digger," it intrudes subtly. While the guitar was seething to the point of bursting moments earlier, when the bridge drops, it's nowhere to be heard. This bridge is little more than a reiteration of the verse, but the absence of guitar indulges the song's focused side. As the bass guitar rattles ominously, Eastern Sidekick are setting the listeners up for the final blow.
When that last chorus drops, the door is kicked practically off the hinges. The band is compensating for the tension built up in the bridge and thus the balance is maintained.
While many might claim that Eastern Sidekick's "Digger" is very much your average rock song, its internal workings suggest some very careful consideration. And it is exactly this kind of inner life that makes "Digger" something special.
Watch the music video for Eastern Sidekick's latest single "Digger" RIGHT HERE
Jeff Tobias is a composer, writer and musician currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been tinkering with his breakfast burrito recipe and working on his chess game.