[EP Review] Max the Axe|Oktoberfest Cheer

I can sum up Max the Axe’s latest EP, Oktoberfest Cheer in two words. Bitter Sweet.

The best sound to ascend from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is not completely over but it will not be the same going forward. Lead singer Eric “Uncle Meat” Litwiller announced on The LeBrain Train this past summer that he will be moving on from the group, making Oktoberfest Cheer the final release from this version of Max the Axe.

It is hard to believe, but if the EP is his last with the band, “Uncle Meat” went out on a high note.

It begins with an original, Pygmy Blow Dart. Judging by the title alone, I figured this would have some punk energy and I got it right for once. The band’s biggest difference in sound this time when compared to their previous album Static Electric is Mike Mitchell’s bass. It now sports a Lemmy vibe with punkish Marshall crunch.

I wouldn’t label the entire song as punk, however. “Uncle Meat’s” straight vocal melody keeps the tune grounded in the band’s Ozzy-Sabbath roots. Regardless of which genre you want to fit it into, this is a great high voltage opener!

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The next song is a cover of Black Flag’s Thirsty and Miserable (Which, coincidently enough, Lemmy had covered at one point as well) and it is fantastic. I am a fan of this song and have heard it be covered many times before. This might be the first and only instance I have been able to make out its lyrics. A perfect fit on a punkish album about Oktoberfest!

The final tune is the title track, Oktoberfest Cheer. The song’s frantic style didn’t grab me at first. There is a lot going on with the addition of an accordion from Catherine Thompson and it felt like the band was being pushed down the stairs a little ahead of her. But it takes a turn for the better once the song gets into the groove of the chorus. A fun tune that ends beautifully with “Uncle Meat” shouting at us to not crush his smokes or spill his beer.

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I hope those are not the last words I hear him say as the front man for Max the Axe as I can’t think of many pills that are harder to swallow. Although, who knows what the future may bring? Reunions happen all of the time. For now, we just have to accept how this might be it. Someone much wiser than me once said “You can feel sad that it is over or be glad that it had happened.” Well, I am so glad that it had happened!

4.5/5

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[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | Man Machine Poem

Welcome to the 19th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for Man Machine Poem right here

As for me, of course I listened to Man Machine Poem when it came out. It was released in June of 2016, 6 months after the announcement that Gord Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer.

I’m not afraid to admit how susceptible I am to becoming more interested in an artist’s music whenever they pass away or are diagnosed with a terminal disease. I don’t think of it as jumping on a band wagon so I can morbidly join in on the sympathy train. I’m sure there are people who do that. Maybe part of me is doing the same but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

Knowing the sound they created is more finite than usual influences me to become better aware of their music. The Hip was a band that I thought would be around forever. I took them for granted. I’ll get around to taking Sarah to see them perform one day. I’m just waiting for that perfect storm. When they’re playing at the right venue for the right price. And tickets are accessible. None of that happened.

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Sarah and I gave Man Machine Poem listen when she bought it on or close to release day. Like most Hip albums, I didn’t think it was great on that first spin. The exception being the album’s second tune, In a World Possessed by the Human Mind. It brought me right back to that Phantom Power sound as it felt like an extension of my all time favourite Hip song, Escape Is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man. That hit me right away.

As the album got more spins around here, the rest grew on me. What Blue comes close, but there are no real pop tunes on the album as it is driven by a weighty mood. There can be frustration like on In Sarnia or anger like on Hot Mic but I found most of the album to be wistful.

Tunes like Here, In The Dark, Great Soul, and Machine have a slight upbeat tick in the rhythm with Gord’s vocal melodies and lyrics having a hint of sadness. The rest of the band feeds off of this vibe as the songs are not blistering with poppy guitar and drum fills. The songs are performed straight with the instruments ramping up whenever the lyrics do.

There is no better argument for physical media than lyrics written in Gord’s handwriting.
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Man Machine Poem was written and recorded prior to Gord receiving his diagnosis, but I believe his disease is on its surface. Gord could have been Tired As Fuck from brain cancer before being diagnosed. Personally, I think sometimes people just know before they know. I think the Hip knew before they knew.

With all of that said, the album is not a tough listen. It is a reflective and it is heartfelt. It is heavy on the pensive and light on the melancholy. More earnest than bleak. Knowing Gord, that is what he was aiming for. He nailed it.

4/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with a review of their Blu-ray Long Time Running!

Super sexy white vinyl.
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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | Fully Completely: Deluxe Edition

Welcome to the 18th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for Fully Completely Deluxe Edition right here

As for me, I already reviewed the fantastic album that is Fully Completely which you can read right here. For this post, I’ll only be focusing on the remastering and the bonus material that is included on this 2CD Deluxe Edition set.

For the remaster of the original songs, I don’t have an 1992 disc to do a side by side comparison but I’m confident with saying that there isn’t much of a difference. This is not a remix like several of this album’s tunes got for the compilation, Yer Favourites. I’m sure there are people arguing on a message board somewhere over which version of Fully Completely sounds better. For me, all I can only say that I don’t miss the original disc.

As for the two bonus songs, Radio Show and So Hard Done By, both are nice additions but I’ll be surprised if they blow your socks off. Both are tacked onto disc 1 following the album’s original track list. Radio Show was released as a single to promote this release, but by default as it is the only song that had not been previously released in any form. It is a slow jam/groove tune that makes for a decent album track.

So Hard Done By is more upbeat than the slow and sleazy version that ended up on the Hip’s following album, Day For Night. I like the Day For Night version better but it is the one that I’m more accustomed too.

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Really, the star of the Deluxe Edition is the live show that makes up disc 2. Recorded at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on Sept 13th, 1992, almost a month prior to Fully Completely‘s release on October 6th. The Hip perform the album’s entire track list, albeit in a different order, with Twist My Arm from Road Apples being the only outsider.

And the performance is sensational in a down and gritty way.

You can hear the excitement in Gord Downie’s voice as he chatters between the songs, cracking some NSFW jokes, that the band are stoked to get these songs to the public. They know they have the goods and they can’t wait for people to hear it.

The show is delivered raw, which I approve of. I’ll take some bumps and bruises during a performance over a doctored one any day of the week. There are no major mistakes, just small kinks that need to be ironed out. Like how the acoustic guitar during Wheat Kings is slightly out of tune. It definitely adds to some charm to those opening chords. But these songs are still relatively new to the band and their crew, so they have some warts. In contrast to the rest of the show, their performance of Twist My Arm is as slick as can be since they are more seasoned at playing it.

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Imagine if more bands had a live show like this in their catalogue. AC/DC performing Back In Black, The Rolling Stones performing Let It Bleed, or Tom Petty performing Wildflowers in its entirely before their respective albums were released. My Lord, I want to live in that world. How do I get there?

Anyway, Fully Completely Deluxe Edition is beyond reasonably price on amazon.ca for $13 moosebucks right now. It is a no brainer. Sure, you can probably easily find an OG copy (At least here in Canada) for dirt cheap at a pawn shop or used music store, but you’ll be missing out on a great live set. Get this.

5/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with Man Machine Poem!

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

Top Debut Albums of All Time — We’ll List ‘Em on the LeBrain Train Tonight!

I’ll be on the LeBrain Train tonight talking about our top 11 favourite debut albums of all time! It will be fun to talk to the LeBrain crew again. It feels like forever since I was last on. As for my top 11 list, I have 10 albums mostly locked in and 20 others I’m considering for the 11th spot. Decisions! Decisions! Tune in tonight at 6:45pm EST!

mikeladano.com

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Friends

Saturday July 9 – Episode 75 – Top Debut Albums of All Time

Our audacious panel is tackling a big list topic this week, brought to you by Kevin:  Top debut albums.  The graphic above is a mere tease.  Some of those albums might be on lists, some might not…you never can tell what you’re going to get with a rogue’s gallery like this:

In a show first, this will be Geoff’s debut as a participant and not just the scorekeeper/grapher!  This will be a lot of fun for us, and hopefully you as well.  Get ready with…

View original post 23 more words

[Random] A Day in the Life of Mars

That Lana. Not only is she a terrific part of this community but is usually ready with a question I cannot simply answer with a sentence or two. Yesterday we started chatting about sleeping schedules. I’m an early riser and even while on vacation (like I am this week) I get up at 6AM. I think of it as sleeping in because I’m normally up at 4:30-5AM for work.

I made a joke about how I’m still not productive even if I do get up early, then she asked my what a typical day for me is when not working. Well… why not start with today?

My wife Sarah is the coffee guru around here. Part of her blog is dedicated to the jitter juice. She grinds her own beans and percolates on weekends. (Hey now!) Lately she hasn’t been getting up until 8AM or later, so I’m waiting a few hours to get my fix. Today, she just happened to get up with me, so I got her to show me the ropes. Tomorrow, I’ll be making my own perc coffee. Huzzah!

Breakfast was Rice Krispies and fruit while I read my book on the Megadeth album, Rust In Peace. Normally, I’ll dick around on the YouTubes in the morning, but I was talking to Deke about all the books he gets through and he said, “When I read a book, I stop everything else I’m doing until I finish the book”. Imagine that. You have to read these things in order to finishing reading them. I’m about halfway through and they’re only getting to the album now. So far been it has been about drugs, drinking, drugs, a little bit about Jesus, and drugs.

At 8AM I got started on painting and fixing up our basement bathroom. The walls have had this ugly yellow colour that we have wanted to change since we moved into this house 16 years ago. I tell Sarah all the time, you ask a man to do something and he will get to it… eventually. I did a lot of the prep work yesterday, cleaning the walls, removing the towel racks, and mudding some dents and holes, but I still had the taping to do. Sarah offered to help, and I took her up on it. I let her choose the music for the job and she asked for Judas Priest and Megadeth. No problemo. I grabbed Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance and Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction. I also grabbed k.d. Lang’s Ingénue since I though I had never listened to it before. But it turns out I had. Anyway, all of the tunes were great. The taping took forever but were done with the first coat of paint by lunch.

After lunch (leftover Mexican noodles and two episodes of The Mary Tylor Moore Show) I had to wait until 2:30pm before I could start on the 2nd coat, so Sarah and I tackled the crack house bathtub/shower.

This needed a staggering amount of scrubbing. We went through numerous “magic erasers” from Mr. Clean but we got a lot of the grime off. The shower part of the tub was hastily installed by the previous owners and the caulking between the sections started coming undone and growing mildew. I scraped a lot of it off. Eventually, the job turned into a one man operation, so I painted the linen closest off to the side of the tub while Sarah took a deep dive on the more stubborn stains.

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Before she wrapped up, Sarah announced that the tub drain was not salvageable and will need to be replaced. Guess who was going to remove it? I used my old trick of sticking needle nose plyers down the drain to catch onto the cross members and started turning counter clockwise. For the first time ever, the cross members snapped off. Shit.

After a several visits to YouTube, I finally found a strategy that worked. I cut into the drain with a hacksaw, then stuck a flat head screwdriver into the groove and started hammering. It took a lot of brute force, but the bastard finally came off.

Sarah was impressed by how little swearing there was.

After that, Sarah cleaned up the tub (again) and it was time for a 2nd coat. This time we listened to Disc 1 and Disc 2 of Oh, What A Feeling!, a four CD set of Canadian rock tunes that came out in the 1996 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Juno Awards, A.K.A. Canadian Grammys. It has a bunch of hits from the ’60s through to the ’90s.

It was close to 4pm by the time we were done, and I started on supper at 4:30pm after a little break. I get up early and I eat supper early. I also hate going to bed with a full stomach because I get heartburn. Speaking of heartburn, I normally don’t eat sausages because the nitrates are not good for the ol’ ticker, but these pork ones were on sale at the grocery store’s butcher and were too nice to resist.

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My goodness, it was beautiful out! I was popping in and out of the garage all day with the door open, and it was hot and humid. Now, at 4:30, it was perfectly warm with no humidity. My Dad was always big on having a beer while he BBQ’d. I don’t normally, but I’m on vacation with perfect weather and we had one beer in the fridge.

This was tasty. I like my lagers with little to no hops taste to them.

I sat and drank while the flames did their magic to the sausages.

Yum!

I was good and hungry by the time they were done a little after 5pm. I had two of them! I like my buns warmed on the grill and I usually just have mustard and onions for condiments. But Sarah turned me onto this dill relish that is quite delicious as it tastes just like copped dill pickles. A new fav!

There was temptation to eat outside but the kids on the other side of the fence were having a pool party, so we took it to the basement to watch today’s movie, Rush Hour 3. Oof. Some of the “jokes” have not aged well!

After the movie, the kitchen was cleaned and I showered. I usually shower in the evening. Another habit I picked up from my Dad. There is nothing like one after puttering around the house all day. Sarah threw on CNN and I yelled at the TV over Bill Cosby for a minute. I then headed out to the backyard and typed this out on the laptop. Pretty much a perfect day for me. I’ll hit post, then go back into the house and read more of my book until bedtime. This is probably more than Lana asked for but there is no subject I enjoy talking about more than myself.

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[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | Now For Plan A

Welcome to the 16th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for Now For Plan A right here

As for me, this was my first time listening to any of Now For Plan A and I was home within the first few notes. This is the sound. This is the Hip.

At Transformation is the album’s first single and its a rockin’ album opener. It has that gritty bar band sound from the band’s early albums, even if it could stand to have Gords vocals a little higher in the mix. After the band’s previous album We Are The Same‘s overproduced sound, this was refreshing to hear. It has been a long time since a Hip song grabbed on the first listen.

I’m going to sound like a broken record for the rest of the album. Once again, it took a few spins before it began to talk to me. At first, I thought Now For Plan A was easily the weakest since the debut EP. By Thursday I was picking my favourites and cursing the shortness of some of its songs. This is the shortest of any of the Hip’s albums clocking in at only 39 minutes.

There are two tracks out of the album’s eleven that I’m lukewarm on. I do like most of We Want to Be It but that repeated “Drip, Drip, Drip” lyric makes me cringe a little. It sounds like Sesame Street telling kids to be sure to turn off faucets. The guitar riff for About This Map has a sweet U2-ish vibe but the lyrical map analogies feel a little too on the nose.

Really, those are the only two negatives I have.

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Canadian artist Sarah Harmer appears on two tunes. Unlike We Are The Same where the guest artist took over, she is woven in nicely to enhance Gord’s vocals. This is the way to do it. The Lookahead is a bright, feel good tune that only lasts 2:26. It could have went on for more. She is also on the title track, Now For Plan A. A gorgeous tune that puzzles me how it was not a single. With its Neil Young and Crazy Horse like guitar strumming and sweeping “Nothing short of everything” chorus, I think it could have sold a few more copies.

Man Machine Poem took the longest of all of the songs to grow on me. I thought it was a little too brooding at first, but now I read the lyrics as someone being consoled during some sort of medical treatment:

See
It works
In monkeys
You’re right
Again
But it is a thin win

What works on monkeys? Some experimental new treatment? Is the “thin win” an agreement for taking the treatment? Or did it not work? Gord making my grey matter boil over again.

Streets Ahead is a solid, driving rocker and was the album’s 2nd single. The bass fills in this song are EXACTLY why I don’t like the strings on We Are The Same. I want to hear a Hip member do the fills! The song is better for it. The guitars do sound a little over modulated though, but I guess they were going for a garage rock vibe.

I love The Modern Spirit and it opens side 2 on the vinyl. This one lets the ol’ bar band roots out. It helps that I can hear a little bit of AC/DC’s Rock ‘n Roll Singer in the riff! Take Forever is a bit of an average tune for the Hip but its groove makes it a solid album track. Done and Done is the Hips version of a break up song. I’ll take it over any of Taylor Swift’s.

Goodnight Attawapiskat closes the album with a growl. This is another song with that Neil Young and Crazy Horse swing, but guitars sound way meaner. Perfect landing.

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Now For Plan A was released during The Hip’s lowest point in popularity since the pre-Road Apples years. The album did reach gold status in Canada, but it took the longest for any of the Hip’s to do so since Up to Here and only sold 12,000 copies within its first week. Less than half of what World Container and We Are the Same accomplished.

So, many of you may have missed or passed this one by. Heck, I just dropped the needle on it for the first time last Sunday and it took a while for it to get its hooks in me. Once it had though, it did not let go. You might want to see if it will do the same for you.

4.5/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with the Blu-ray Bobcagyeon.

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | We Are The Same

Welcome to the 15th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for We Are The Same right here

As for me, this was my first time listening to any of We Are The Same and I found a lot to love on it.

For one, Gord Downie is at his most prolific. At least for me. I’ve been enjoying his quirky, deep, thoughtful, and inspiring lyrics throughout this series. For this round, he took his poetry to another level as he hit topics that connected with me. Depression, reclusiveness, and self doubt are reflected on and not in that self-centered ’90s grunge way.

There is frustration in his words as he argues with, learns, and understands not only his situation but others as well. There is a sense of uselessness as he offers assurance by saying “those little things that don’t make anyone feel better”. He relates to another as they are “going through something” because he is too. My god, this is every day for me!

Compassion and concern comes though as he delivers the words over a gorgeous vocal melodies. None better than the 9 minute opus, Depression Suite. This song is almost at prog rock level with its tempo changes and mood swings, and it flies by! It feels like a 2 minute song.

So, here is the part in the review where I shifts gears. I wish it was all sunshine and rainbows, but…

Morning Moon – Beautiful tune. Love it. But who are these guys singing back up? Did Gord drop out of the Hip and join Crosby, Stills, and Gord?

Honey, Please – I like the Tom Petty vibe for this one and it features Barenaked Ladies member Kevin Hearn’s accompaniment on piano and Hammond organ. It is fine, but no Hip members could contribute instead? At least Rob Baker is given plenty of space to shine as he rips an excellent solo.

The Last Recluse – Another one that is heavy on the Kevin Hearn contributions. This time it is an accordion floating around with the melody. It is all OK until we get to the chanting towards the end. WTF? Why is this here?

Coffee Girl – Johnny Fay makes the short drum loop sound as naturally as he possibly can, but it sound robotic. The trumpet solo is fine, but I rather be listening to Rob Baker’s guitar.

Now the Struggle Has a Name – Nothing like a string section that adds nothing to the song. I’m getting Metallica S&M vibes.

The Depression Suite – Brilliant lyrics! Brilliant! Ruined by more unnecessary strings. Da faaaaq! Get rid of them!

The Exact Feeling – This one is the worst offender. What is this? A talk box? The drum beat from Aerosmith’s Jaded? Ja-ja-jaded? It closely copies Sweet Emotion‘s sweeping opening with a rattle sound too. “Aero-hip” can piss right off.

Queen of the Furrows – I like how it sounds a bit like Zeppelin’s Ramble On and I believe that is Paul Langlois on the mandolin. So, this one gets an A+.

Speed River – The best mixed tune on the album. A hint of Hammond organ, the background vocals are tweaked but not overdone, and I can hear my band. Baker has a strong solo and Fay has some great drum fills. It swings like how a Hip tune should swing. If only the whole album was like this…

Frozen in My Tracks – Woahhhh-ooooooah! What is this? An ’80s hair band? Good song, but that part? Barf. Baker gets some overdrive on the solo for this one, so that’s a nice part.

Love Is a First – The love shack is a little ol’ place where… we can get together! Seriously, this was mixed for the B-52s, not The Hip.

Country Day – Strings, backing vocals, are all gross. Do I hear a banjo? Should I be paddling faster now? What the fuck?

To be clear, I don’t hate the production on We Are The Same. I do dislike how it completely buries the band under layers of bloat. It makes for a frustrating listen at times because the songs are so darn good!

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And, you might be surprised to hear this, but I don’t blame producer Bob Rock. The production does bear the mark of his past work, and he likely introduced ideas to the band, but we all know any final decision was Gord Downie’s. When played live, the stings, trumpet, and accordion bits were all subbed by keyboards. It shows me that these additions were set to be integral parts of the songs.

As a result, We Are The Same comes off to me as a Gord Downie solo project. There is nothing wrong with that in of itself, but I want to hear the Tragically Hip play on Tragically Hip albums.

The songs: 5/5
The arrangements: 1/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with Now For Plan A.

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | World Container

Welcome to the 14th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for World Container right here

As for me, this week marked the first time I listened to World Container. Ever. It is likely I had heard the album’s first single, In View before since it sounded vaguely familiar, but the rest was completely foreign to me.

Just as almost every other Hip album I have covered, I spent a full week with it, and it took about half that time to really grow on me. It has a mid-’00s sound with songs derived from the bands of the day like The Strokes, but also traditional influences such as U2, Tom Petty, and The Police. Every one of them is anchored by The Hip’s own brand of Canadian rock.

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Speaking of rock, World Container is known for being the start of a working relationship with mega-producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith) that carried over into the Hip’s follow up album, We Are The Same. I know some feel he dramatically altered their sound for the worse, but he didn’t move the needle much either way for me. If I wanted to get really picky, In View is a really solid pop tune that would have benefited the same bright production My Music At Work got. And at times, the growl of the guitars on songs like Luv (Sic) could have had more bite. Otherwise, Word Container sounds fine to me.

As for the songs themselves, Yer Not The Ocean has a strong Tom Petty vibe which makes for a solid opening track. I had to double check the liner notes to make sure Mike Campbell didn’t make an appearance. The Lonely End of The Rink Hipifies The Strokes/U2/and The Police all at once. It sounds like a lot to mash together, but it works.

I mentioned In View earlier. It is ’00s “Play me on your radio” pop with a great hook. A stand out track that easily would have made Yer Favourites if it came out a year later. It is a wonderment to me how Fly wasn’t a single. It seems primed for one with its sweeping melody and the ear catching lyric:

Freddie Mercury, “I’ve sometimes wished I’d never been born at all.”

Dam Gord. That makes my brain pause to listen every time.

The rhythm section goes full U2 for Luv (Sic) on the verses. It has that ’80s retro bass driven sound, then bashes into the Hips usual ’90s heavy chorus. I like it.

Reading the title, The Kids Don’t Get It had me thinking The Hip were about to take on The Who, but this one has a sound closer to The Clash. The lyrics could be mistaken for Gord becoming a cranky boomer, but there is probably more to it. I really dig the line:

If I ask a question are you going to lie to me?
Is that your question, because that one is easy.

So, I was surprised to hear the next song, the sweet piano ballad Pretend open with the same lyric. It sounded to me like a conversation between too people. The angry person in The Kids Don’t Get It, then the other is just as angry, but with a calm demeanor. It had me wondering if World Container is a concept album, but it seem like these two songs are the only songs to be connected by lyrics.

You Kissed My Fingers and Made Me Love You Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me has two catchy parts and a solid bluesy guitar solo. I don’t like how Gord put his part together for The Drop-Off. Some lines have too many words jammed together, then he scrambles some lyrics with over singing. But it is a good driving rock tune so it more than passes the mustard.

The Hip go full on The Strokes for Family Band. No offence to Yer Not The Ocean, but I would have opened the album with this. I’d sneak this onto a mix tape for someone I like.

The album wraps up with the title track, World Container. A solid ballad with Gord hitting more homers with the lyrics. I like the one line about going beyond the limits:

“What you’ll find there are all flaws in progress”.

Hell yes. It is a song about making mistakes but not forgetting them so you don’t repeat them. What a way to wrap up an album. Plane landed, on the runway.

There is not a bad track on World Container as it is a consistent listen throughout. Even if the entire package doesn’t quite add up to the early albums, I’ve been humming these tunes all week. That is a sign that I got me a good ‘un. A darn good ‘un.

4.5/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with We Are The Same.

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | Yer Favourites

Welcome to the 13th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for Yer Favourites right here

As for me, Yer Favorites is a new purchase. I could think of no solid reason to get a greatest hits compilation before considering Sarah and I already collected the Hip’s albums. No sense in buying the same recordings twice, right?

Well, there are some changes.

There are two new exclusive tunes, No Threat and The New Maybe but neither felt great to me. OK, at best.

Four tunes are remixed by Up to Here and Road Apples producer Don Smith. All are from the band’s third album Fully Completely. I found most of the changes to be subtle. I am no Hip expert, but I had to play Fully Completely and Fully Completely (Remix) back to back to spot the echo removed from Gord Downie’s lead vocals and nixed tambourine. The one glaring change, is the now prominent drums on Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) which I felt gave the song a different flavour. Really, how dramatic these changes are to you will depend on any attachment to the original recordings.

For me, I’m a bit wishy washy here. I find them fun enough for whenever I listen to Yer Favourites. None stand out enough to prefer over the originals, but I also like hearing a new take on an old recording.

All of the songs on the album are remastered, which gives them more presence than they had before, but for the most part the original recordings are completely fine.

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So why the heck did I buy this set? Two reasons, really.

For one, it has a cool back story. With the two new songs already set, the remainder of Yer Favourites was put together by fans who voted on The Hip’s website. Usually, I don’t care for “people’s choice” types of awards, but Hip fans pretty much nailed this one.

All of the major hits are included, as is the Canadian radio hit Wheat Kings, and some choice album tracks like Escape Is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man and Cordelia. Well, heck, why don’t I just show you the track list:

Disc one

  1. No Threat (new song)
  2. Grace, Too (Day for Night)
  3. My Music at Work (Music @ Work)
  4. 38 Years Old (Up to Here)
  5. Gift Shop (Trouble at the Henhouse)
  6. Ahead by a Century (Trouble at the Henhouse)
  7. Vaccination Scar (In Between Evolution)
  8. Three Pistols (Road Apples)
  9. So Hard Done By (Day for Night)
  10. Fiddler’s Green (Road Apples)
  11. Looking for a Place to Happen (Remix) (Fully Completely)
  12. Cordelia (Road Apples)
  13. It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken (In Violet Light)
  14. Blow at High Dough (Up to Here)
  15. Wheat Kings (Fully Completely)
  16. Fifty Mission Cap (Fully Completely)
  17. New Orleans Is Sinking (Up to Here)
  18. Escape Is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man (Phantom Power)


Disc two

  1. Fully Completely (Remix) (Fully Completely)
  2. Twist My Arm (Road Apples)
  3. Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) (Remix) (Fully Completely)
  4. Lake Fever (Music @ Work)
  5. Poets (Phantom Power)
  6. Fireworks (Phantom Power)
  7. Boots or Hearts (Up to Here)
  8. Bobcaygeon (Phantom Power)
  9. Nautical Disaster (Day for Night)
  10. Highway Girl (The Tragically Hip)
  11. Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park (In Between Evolution)
  12. Scared (Day for Night)
  13. Something On (Phantom Power)
  14. At the Hundredth Meridian (Remix) (Fully Completely)
  15. Long Time Running (Road Apples)
  16. The Darkest One (In Violet Light)
  17. Locked in the Trunk of a Car (Fully Completely)
  18. Little Bones (Road Apples)
  19. The New Maybe (new song)

This track list gives the albums in back catalogue fair representation by popularity with Fully Completely getting 7 songs and the self titled debut EP getting one.

After giving the set a spin for the first time, I really had to struggle to think of a song that was missing. It felt as if this had it all of the important tracks, but there are always some missing. I finally thought of Thompson Girls from Phantom Power. I then cheated combed through my previous posts to come up with songs such as Are We Family, Goodnight Josephine, Throwing Off Glass, A Beautiful Thing, The Dire Wolf, and Flamenco. I feel any one of them would make for better inclusions than Highway Girl or the two new songs. But I’m really splitting hairs here. Most of the tunes on Yer Favourites are by far more popular than my choice deep tracks.

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My other reason for picking this up is how it makes for a good listen. True, save for the two new tunes and the remixes, I could have put the core of the this collection together for myself, but more important is my laziness and the pleasure I get from scoring a good deal. That makes getting a new copy of Yer Favourites on CD for 10 moose bucks a no brainer.

4.5/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with World Container.

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

[Album Review] The Tragically Hip | In Between Evolution

Welcome to the 11th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming.  So be sure to check out her write up for In Between Evolution right here

As for me, this past week was my first time listening to In Between Evolution and my initial impression were not good. The title felt somewhat appropriate, as parts of the album show the Hip stretching into punk, a genre I hope they are not planning to evolve into. As the week wore on, I reached the acceptance stage and embraced some of the album’s moments of brilliance.

The Hip hired producer Adam Kasper who previously scored some major hits when working with The Foo Fighters. I really liked how he split the guitars onto left and right speakers, à la AC/DC here. Not that this album has a hint of AC/DC on it, it is just a cool rock ‘n roll effect. What I don’t care for is some of how he handled Gord Downie’s vocals.

The albums first two tunes, Heaven Is A Better Place Today and Summer Is Killing Us, has Gord stretching to peak range. It sounds like he is struggling to get through these two. He is also buried in the mix at times with some lyrics overpowered by guitars.

Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park is better. Gord is still struggling here but not as dramatically since it is a slow jam. As the title suggests, the lyrics for this one are odd. So, I had to look up who the heck Gus is for context. Gus was indeed a real life Polar Bear on display at the Central Park Zoo until his death in 2013. He became a bit of a phenomenon in the ’90s when he began swimming obsessively for 10-12 hours a day. No one could figure out why. Some thought he was depressed, others said he was neurotic or a flake. He became the first zoo animal in history to be treated with Prozac. After reading that, I could see why Gord wanted to sing about him.

Vaccination Scar was an immediate hit with me. Honestly, it has nothing to do with current events. Here is were The Hip reach that ol’ bar band vibe. Gord sounds on key and in the pocket. Also, Rob Baker’s slide makes an appearance on a Hip album in God knows how long. This is a good one.

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The middle of the album is made up the guitar driven tunes It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night, The Heart of The Melt, and As Makeshift as We Are; and some mellow tracks New Orleans Is Beat, Mean Streak and You’re Everywhere. All are decent but only just stand on their own. The riffs for the guitar driven tracks are a little catchy but fairly basic. They lack the hook of a New Orleans is Sinking. The mellow tunes are standard and lack Gord’s usual lyrical bite. Not bad, just not great.

Now, the last three tracks… This is The Hip. felt at home with One Night in Copenhagen. This would have make for a punchy 2nd track on the album. The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but it is short and has some great momentum throughout.

Are We Family is the album’s first genuine moment of melancholy. Its clean guitar riff sets the mood for Gord’s thought provoking lines. Here is the opening:

It’s only human to want to inhabit every feeling you’ve got
And more often than not let’s take it to the nth degree

I just can’t help but to think of the pain of a family dispute here. The stuff said in the heat of the moment. The stuff you don’t fully mean and not have said if you were not worked up. Great tune.

Finally, Goodnight Josephine might be the first solid closer The Hip has ever had. If I was making a Hip mixed tape, this would be my finisher. I’ll leave you listening to the lyrics and try to figure out if Josephine is alive or dead. I love the horns harmonizing with Gord’s ba-ba-ba, na-na-na, chorus.

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In spite of a strong closing, In Between Evolution just cuts the mustard. The band went for a raw, rock energy at first, but they were 10 plus years past that phase in their career and sounded like it. I commend The Hip for always trying to add a little something different but the good songs on this album show that they are better when they are themselves.

The first two songs: 1.5/5
Middle: 3/5
Last three songs: 5/5

Overall: 2.5/5

Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with That Night In Toronto.

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Get more Hip in ya:

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Us
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-Ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-Ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-Ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip