This Side

This Side

4.5 12
by Nickel Creek
     
 

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Nickel Creek's twin desires -- to honor acoustic roots music and update it with a post-millennial pop flourish -- won the young trio a host of fans for their spirited debut. The group's second album, This Side, furthers the cause, seamlessly melding bluegrass and pop strains in a fashion that should attract new admirers even as some

Overview

Nickel Creek's twin desires -- to honor acoustic roots music and update it with a post-millennial pop flourish -- won the young trio a host of fans for their spirited debut. The group's second album, This Side, furthers the cause, seamlessly melding bluegrass and pop strains in a fashion that should attract new admirers even as some mountain-music purists grumble. But tradition is only one side of the Nickel Creek story, and This Side appropriately focuses more on the band's originals and clever covers. No one walks the pop-bluegrass intersect better than Alison Krauss, who returns to produce This Side, allowing the trio to stretch but reining them in before they get too far out there. And out there they venture. Their version of Carrie Newcomer's folkish bit of self-recrimination, "I Should've Known Better," evokes the Beatles in its title, and Krauss's production frames Sara Watkins's delicate soprano in Fab Four touches, such as an "Eleanor Rigby"-style string quartet that plays dissonant retorts and swirling, ascending passages. The pop-folk-rock arrangement of "Spit On a Stranger," from the pen of Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, includes some processed background voices and a snaking electric guitar line. Nickel Creek's originals, mostly written by mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, are equally inspired. Thile's intriguing meditation on youthful love and commitment, "Young," and his "Brand New Sidewalk," a cautionary ballad addressing the pitfalls of fame (keyed by Sean Watkins's Leo Kottke-like riffs), are as emotionally honest as the musical elements are beautifully realized. Nickel Creek's reach oftentimes threatens to exceed their grasp, which makes the effort even more impressive when it works, as on "Spit On a Stranger," where Thile strains to reach a high note and then nails it. Ultimately, they profit from the experience, emerging with something fresh and vital. This Side is a scintillating exercise in making music with muscle, meaning, and great heart.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Charles Spano
This Side, Nickel Creek's sophomore release, finds bandmembers Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins out of their teens and into their twenties after playing together for 12 years. The southern California band's self-titled debut received wide critical acclaim for welding jazz, rock, and classical music to a bluegrass base. But This Side solidifies Nickel Creek's position as the single most original and inventive bluegrass band to emerge in the early '00s. Hardcore bluegrass fans wary of experimentation or even progressive bluegrass may scoff at this claim. But, when it comes down to it, the gorgeous, open production by Alison Krauss gives Nickel Creek's guitars, mandolins, and fiddles the space to dance through sparkling and genuine arrangements. Covers of everything from Pavement's rollicking Terror Twilight highlight, "Spit on a Stranger," to Carrie Newcomer's scathing folk "Should've Known Better" to the traditional "House Carpenter" are given elegant and unique twists. Plus, Thile and the Watkins siblings' originals, like the sleepy, subtle "Speak" and the darker "Beauty and the Mess," easily outdo the likes of folk-rockers Dave Matthews and Hootie & the Blowfish, while forging a new style to rejuvenate a genre that has always been a bit of a dark horse. It's decidedly more pop than post-rock-gone-folk outfits like Papa M, David Grubbs, Palace, and Miighty Flashlight, and lacks the rock & roll flash of Ryan Adams. But Nickel Creek's music is endlessly rewarding nonetheless, and accessible to just about everyone.
Billboard
Nickel Creek injects its bluegrass with an exhilarating blend of musical versatility, ambitious melodies, and virtuosity that is at times jaw-dropping.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/13/2002
Label:
Sugarhill
UPC:
0015891394121
catalogNumber:
3941
Rank:
49708

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Smoothie Song
  2. Spit on a Stranger
  3. Speak
  4. Hanging by a Thread
  5. Should've Known Better
  6. This Side
  7. Green and Gray
  8. Seven Wonders
  9. House Carpenter
  10. Beauty and the Mess
  11. Sabra Girl
  12. Young
  13. Brand New Sidewalk

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nickel Creek   Primary Artist
Edgar Meyer   Bass,Upright Bass
Byron House   Acoustic Bass
Chris Thile   Bouzouki,Guitar,Mandolin,Strings,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sara Watkins   Fiddle,Strings,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sean Watkins   Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Alison Krauss   Producer
Neal Cappellino   Engineer
Gary Paczosa   Engineer
Jason Lehning   Engineer
Chris Thile   Arranger
Terry Hoff   Illustrations
Sara Watkins   Arranger
Sean Watkins   Arranger
Wendy Stamberger   Art Direction
Tracy Martinson   Engineer

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This Side 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What Can I Say That Hasn't Already Been Said About Nickel Creek. Thile Has Developed As One Of The Most Talented Songwriters and Vocalists In Years. Great Vocal Debut By Sean Watkins on ''This Side'' and ''Speak''. Sara Shines As Well. Not What I Expected, But How Could I Expect An Album Of Such Unbridled Talent & Genius. Tracks: 1. Smoothie Song- Not A Sign Of What Is To Come, but a fierce Instrumental None the Less. 2. Spit On A Stranger- Like Nothing You've Heard Before. One of the album's distinctive highlights. 3. Speak-Good Song...Well Done, but not a signature track. 4. Hanging By A Thread-Thile has come a long way and it shines here. This song made me cry the first time I heard it. 5. Should've Known Better- Experimental and Brilliant. Great Risk With A Great Payoff. 6. This Side- Most Pop Song, But I love it to death. Hopefully, this will open them up to other artists. 7. Green & Grey- Loved It 2 Years Ago when i heard it in concert and just a great love song. 8. Seven Wonders- Fantastic Vocals by Sara and Also One Of The Album's HIghlights. She has such a strong voice, but it is better appreciated live. 9. House Carpenter- Traditional & Strong. More like the first album. 10. Beauty & The Mess- Where did this come from. Fantastic Vocals By Sara & Creative Tune & Lyrics By Thile. 11. Sabra Girl- Haunting. 12. Young- Strange Vocal Jumps. My favorite track. Daring & Amazing. 13. Brand New Sidewalk- Great Song Just Like Every Other Track. Honest Lyrics With Great Thought & Emotion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the first album but I think this album ventured to far from the roots of bluegrass
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nickel Creek has always been amazing, but this time they've truly done it. I listen to "This Side" everyday of my life. If i didn't Id die... They are so amazing and have only become more amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nickel Creek's sophomore album does not disappoint. The songs live up to the band's energetic and lively playing! Kudos to the band for going out on a limb and daring to be adventurous in their song choices and interpretations. The title track stands out as well as their rendition of Carrie Newcomer's "I Should've Known Better." We can only hope they will continue to sing and play for many more years!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked Nickel Creek's first effort but 'This Side' blew me away. Every track on this CD is terrific. For anyone who loves acoustic music with outstanding vocals, this is a must hear. Their instrumental tracks are great, but 1 or 2 per album is enough for me. The four tracks on their debut release was a little too much. Great Job Nickel Creek!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nickel Creek is back, and perhaps we wish they would have figured out their own particular style by now. Maybe they have and there is no word for it yet. This album is a patchwork similar to the album preceding it. Lots of choices, and if you're good with the remote, you can program out the stuff that's really annoying to you. There are some good new sounds here - but the ones that soar are the ones with the harmonies, and there are just too few of these. Perhaps that's the point Nickel Creek is making - we'll do it our way. "All they get of you is what they get out of the show. The rest is mine I guess the beauty and the mess to hide." (Beauty & the Mess, Track 10). If you like the jazzy-grass-folk-fusion instrumental pieces, my suggestions below may be places to continue on your quest. There is a tradition preceding (or paralleling) this aspect of Nickel Creek. Even Chris Thile's own effort, "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" (2001) is pretty solid. Buy that one first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
folksie bluegrass diehards who obessed over the perfection of nickel creek's self-titled first release on sugar hill a few years back beware- you may be a bit angry not to find much bluegrass here. however, all the lame comments about nickel creek "wandering too far from their roots" are ubsurd and unfounded! the band members are from SoCal people, not your bluegrass capital of the world! however, keep an open mind, go through the album SLOWLY and DEEPLY, and you will be just as impressed as the first go around! Smoothie Song- is the only instrumental but is great, they need a few more ones like this on the album to round it out; Spit on a Stranger- not really my thing, but has attracted some new listeners i'm sure; Speak- gorgeous song, a lot like Sean's solo album (check that out too btw); Hanging By a Thread- Chris's voice is kinda funky here, and kinda makes you hurt; I Should've Known Better- awesome, love this song; This Side- another great example of why Sean should sing a lot more, his writing skills are really amasing!; Green and Grey- really cool lyrics here... great imagery so i'll give it the best lyrics of the album nod; Seven Wonders- kinda sleepy but sits well with Sara's voice; House Carpenter- long but good for the traditionalist's sake; Beauty and the Mess- Sara steps out of her shell here, it's an awesome song; Sabra Girl- great cover, could stand to be a bit more 'celtic'; Young- nice lyrics, pretty song; Brand New Song- really deep, Chris's growth since the last time is apparent here... on the whole- GIVE IT A CHANCE.. it, just like the last one, will grow on you... as allison krauss said "it's just nickel creek music"
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed their last CD, but this one is even better! It has a good mix of sounds, that even makes people that don't like country or blue grass like their CD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVED their first CD, and was waiting to get my hands on this CD. At first, I was a little hesitant as I listned to the songs. But, when I listened to it the second time, I fell in love with it. It's different, which is good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was watching public television and saw their set...so young yet their sound is so captivating, I'm amazed at their ability to make such great music. After hearing them on TV, I had to buy the cd!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago