Year 6, Day 34: Taking a Victory Lap with Propagandhi

Year 6, Day 34: Propagandhi – Victory Lap

Track Listing

  1. Victory Lap
  2. Comply/Resist
  3. Cop Just Out of Frame
  4. When All Your Fears Collide
  5. Letters to a Young Anus
  6. Lower Order (A Good Laugh)
  7. Failed Imagineer
  8. Call Before You Dig
  9. Nigredo
  10. In Flagrante Delicito
  11. Tartuffle
  12. Adventures in Zoochosis

About the Album

Victory Lap is the seventh studio album from Canadian punk band, Propagandhi. The album was released on September 29th 2017 through Epitaph Records.

Thoughts on the Album

I am pretty sure that with today’s album, we have reached peak Canadian for the duration of the project. Three (I think) Canadian bands in one calendar week. Propagandhi is today’s featured artist with their seventh studio effort, Victory Lap, which is their first album released in five years. Leave it to a bunch of Canadians to write and produce a set of incredibly socially and politically conscious songs. Here’s the thing with Victory Lap… it takes the melodic hardcore punk that Propagandhi is known for and somehow turns it into metal. Not sure what kind of sorcery they used to make it work, but it’s incredibly good. Punk at it’s most base and primal form is raw, powerful, and rebellious. With the addition of the metal elements (found with guitars, not on the periodic table), Victory Lap breathes life into a genre that’s been kicking around for the last four-plus decades or so.

Propagandhi has always been a cut above the rest in the genre. Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian… I don’t know. Propagandhi is band that when they release an album, they have something to say. It’s giving a savage message that is delivered with such raging energy that this genre is sorely missing at the moment… especially given the global climate. Victory Lap comes at you with both intelligence and honesty. It’s thirty six and a half minutes of guitar riffs that thrash about like sea waves in a typhoon. While there really isn’t any diversion from what’s already been done and the differences here are minute, where it lacks in innovation, it makes up in incredible songwriting. It’s the blistering guitar riffs and breakneck speed of Comply/Resist and the melancholic breather of Nigredo.

What Victory Lap does best and strongest is that it has excellent and incredible control over a wide range of moods and emotions that the album an exceedingly engaging one from start to finish. The musicianship is amazing and dynamic ranging from the grooving gymnastics of the bass to the powerful and earthquaking drums to the blistering guitar riffs and fantastic solos. The instrumentals on this album offer up countless stellar and powerful moments that showcases the band at their peak, even after 31 years in the game. What this album does is offer up Propagandhi at their purest form, albeit with some tapping into some past elements. Comply/Resist is a sharp-edged, propulsive, and explosive tune that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. The same goes for When Your Fears Collide. Tracks like Letters to a Young Anus and Failed Imagineer offer up more hardcore punk rager moments and shows off just versatile and well-schooled this band is.

Conclusion

While Victory Lap is a slightly weighty album that leans on the bands more playful side which occasionally detracts from the lyrics. That’s really my only gripe about this album. It’s the best punk album from 2017, hands down. The vocals are delivered with a sense of unyielding conviction that are still hungry for more. An unyielding conviction that is set on melting your face. The music backing the vocals is damn near flawless and delivered with almost the same conviction and incredibly high standard. Half-Metallica, half-Black Flag (or Dead Kennedys, if you prefer), Propagandhi‘s Victory Lap is punk at it’s best and highest standards. And while Propagandhi might not be able to save the world by their lonesome selves, Victory Lap serves as their call to arm to join the fray and fight back. And yeah sure, it’s alright if you take some breaks to slam dance.

(Previous Post)

Advertisements

Year 6, Day 33: Happiness… Is Definitely NOT a Fish You Can Catch

Year 6, Day 33: Our Lady Peace – Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch

Track Listing

  1. One Man Army
  2. Happiness & The Fish
  3. Potato Girl
  4. Blister
  5. Is Anybody Home?
  6. Waited
  7. Thief
  8. Lying Awake
  9. Annie
  10. Consequence of Laughing
  11. Stealing Babies

About the Album

Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch (or from here on out, Happiness…) is the third studio album album from Canadian alternative rockers, Our Lady Peace. The album was recorded January 1999 through June 1999 and released on September 21st 1999 through Columbia Records. The album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Charts and is certified 3x platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

Thoughts on the Album

Let’s finish this week out, weird. Did you know that happiness isn’t a fish you can catch? If you didn’t, well now you know. I remember back in high school (2005-2008) looking at this kid’s backpack and he had either written on it in white fabric paint or a pin that read “OUR LADY PEACE”. I was trying figure out what it meant. So using the dial up internet and after three hours of searching the internet, I discovered that they were a rock band from Canada. So figured to check them out. Flash forward to present day and two of the albums that have stuck with me have been their second album, Clumsy and today’s album, and their third, Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch.

I don’t know why these two albums have stuck with me since high school. Maybe it’s the pure ambition and grandeur that these albums have. But anyway onto Happiness…. II’m to make the argument that Happiness… is flat out Our Lady Peace‘s best album they’ve produced. Having some of the band’s more memorable cuts like One Man Army and Stealing BabiesHappiness… also combines the many different styles of their first two albums. The band does an amazing job of effectively incorporating the song writing and musical depth that was Naveed with the catchy hooks and accessibility of Clumsy into an album that is fun, interesting album that is a piece of quintessential 1990’s alternative rock. However, this is not Our Lady Peace just resting on their laurels. Nope, not by a long shot. This album builds off of previous successes. It’s an album that sounds, fresh, new, and exciting all at the same time, which is something other bands in the genre can’t say they achieved this feat.

The true showcase of Happiness… is vocalist Raine Maida. His vocals take front and center stage and are excellent. In a genre were you need powerful vocals, Maida has them. The music is energetic and lively and at some points, emotional. I will say about Maida’s vocals is that, they are at their most bizarre (seriously give Annie or Consequence of Laughing a listen, and you’ll find out just what I mean). His vocals, however bizarre at points on the album are exceedingly enjoyable to listen to. The lyrics and song writing are just as ambiguous and metaphorical as previous releases. It’s 43 minutes of Our Lady Peace is at their best as they wave their magic wand through infectious, anthemic choruses; with soft, vocal driven verses; as well as acoustic intros that are absolutely chilling and rhythm sections that the entirety of the band makes contributions to.

The album opener, One Man Army, is a mid-tempo rocker and an incredibly upbeat cut. It has arguably the best and most effective chorus on the album with Maida’s vocals seemingly stealing the spotlight. However, the driving bass lines, guitar riffs, and keys add much needed depth around Maida’s vocals. The follow up track, Happiness & The Fish, takes it in an entirely different direction (and atmosphere). While One Man Army is more upbeat, Happiness & The Fish is more serious. Albeit, Happiness & The Fish maintains that frantic edge that it’s predecessor has, the lyrical content is a complete 180. Here the lyrical content rather than musical ability is on full display. The second single, Is Anybody Home?, is a incredibly song that starts of with muted vocals before Maida explodes onto the scene with a driving bass groove, pounding drums, and an incredibly talk box melody that burrows into your head and stays there. Then it drops right off into the chorus with subdued guitars and vocals.

The album is closed out by the tracks, Consequences of Laughing and Stealing Babies in fantastically strong fashion. Consequences of Laughing features bass lines and guitar riffs that grow during the verses were Raida’s vocals shine. It’s here on Consequence of Laughing where Maida goes into the strangest falsetto I’ve ever heard. Stealing Babies is the strongest track on the album, in humblest of opinions. It’s tense and angsty atmosphere that builds up into this soft and jazzy interlude that just explodes into a chaotic mess of heavy distortion guitar riffs, keys, bass lines, and drums.

Conlcusion

I’m upset… Happiness is not a fish you can catch

Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch is an incredibly strong (and somehow peak Canadian) album. Blending together what made their two previous albums work best with more infectious hooks and accessibility, Our Lady Peace is at top form. While every track seems to follow a formula, they all manage to sound fresh and new; though some tracks are weaker than other tracks. Frontman Raine Maida‘s unique and memorable falsetto is so much fun and enjoyable to listen to. Happiness… is one of the better cuts of 1990’s alternative rock.

(Previous Post)

Year 6, Day 31: Going Heavy on the Killer, Light on the Filler with Sum 41

Year 6, Day 31: Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler

Track Listing

  1. Introduction to Destruction
  2. Nothing on My Back
  3. Never Wake Up
  4. Fat Lip
  5. Rhythms
  6. Motivation
  7. In Too Deep
  8. Summer
  9. Handle This
  10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
  11. All She’s Got
  12. Heart Attack
  13. Pain for Pleasure

About the Album

All Killer No Filler is the debut studio album from Canadian pop punk band, Sum 41. The album was recorded from September 2000 through March 2001 and released on May 8th 2001 through Island Records. The album peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 and lead single Fat Lip peaked at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well as number sixty six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Single In Too Deep peaked at number ten on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well. The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

Pop punk is one of the few genres were it’s okay to not be revolutionary or progressive, which I can safely say that Sum 41 is not. Pop punk is genre where playing it safe works about 96.3% of the time. So what makes today’s album from Sum 41, All Killer No Filler so special? Outside of being uniquely Canadian, it’s another pop punk album that defined genre, band, and year. What makes All Killer No Filler special and a cut about the rest, is that Sum 41 created an album that has sound and competent songwriting and instrumental talent. That’s where it separates itself from the rest of the genre. This album represents a maturing band, albeit musically. There’s nothing wrong with playful or sophomoric humor in your songs.

The strong point of this album is that it is incredibly fun to listen to… and when combined with the instrumental performance on the album, makes it even stronger. Right off the bat, the guitar work is phenomenal. You can hear the influence that heavy metal had on this band, but it’s just strong enough to not over power their core style. However, Pain for Pleasure eschews this as an ode to glam metal. A welcome addition for those who might have been getting weary of their previous work.

All Killer No Filler does have things that are rather atypical for a pop punk album… mainly guitar solos and certain riffs. Most guitar solos are uncommon for pop punk and are not standard, factory-issued. In Too Deep has an excellent tapping solo. The solo and the opening riff of In Too Deep are unforgettable and instantly recognizable. This song is the cream of the crop when it comes to the guitar work on the album. What the album also does best if counteracting the weaker tracks with what are now considered to be pop punk classics (Fat LipIn Too Deep). Fat Lip, the lead single, was a massive hit that brought the band into the spotlight. A catchy introduction combined with pseudo-rapping verses that have unforgettable lyrics and an anthemic chorus, you have a classic seemingly genre defining song. This is the song that comes to mind when you think of pop punk.

Conclusion

All Killer No Filler is what comes to mind when you think of pop punk. With it’s atypical and nonstandard guitar riffs and solo, this album was one of the best of 2001. Fat Lip and In Too Deep both received massive airplay on the radio. Backed by infectious hooks and catchy melodic riffs, Sum 41 goes heavy on the killer and light on filler with All Killer No FillerIt’s an album that any casual fan of the pop punk genre can get into.

(Previous Post)

Year 6, Day 18: Letting it Ride and Takin’ Care of Business with Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Year 6, Day 18: Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Bachman-Turner Overdrive II

Track List

  1. Blown
  2. Welcome Home
  3. Stonegates
  4. Let It Ride
  5. Give It Time
  6. Tramp
  7. I Don’t Have to Hide
  8. Takin’ Care of Business

About the Album

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II is the second studio album from Canadian rock band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The album was recorded during 1973 and released in December of 1973 through Mercury Records. The album has two of the band’s most well known singles, Takin’ Care of Business and Let It Ride, both of which landed in the Billboard Hot 100 (12 and 23 respectively).

Thoughts on the Album

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II is a strange album. It boasted of two incredible tracks, but neither of which cracked the top ten on the Billboard Hit 100. The lead guitarist for the band, Randy Bachman, was a mainstay in the band The Guess Who prior to BTO releasing Bachman-Turner Overdrive IIRandy Bachman‘s sense of tone and dynamics is incredible. It lead the Vancouver (British Columbia) based band to become one of the biggest and most underrated bands of the 1970’s. The music on the album is relatively simple, uncomplicated, and straightforward. It’s a very blue collar style of rock and roll. Bachman-Turner Overdrive II has some of the best rock and roll songs of the 1970’s.

Side B led by tracks Tramp and I Don’t Have to Hide are relatively weaker songs. This highlights the weaker songwriting and rushed album production to get the album released quicker. Tramp and I Don’t Have to Hide could have been much better tunes if give proper time to be worked on and fleshed out. But that said, the album is pretty great. The guitar work is absolutely phenomenal. The guitars permeate and dominate this album and absolutely crash through and reverberate throughout the album’s uncomplicated music. Randy Bachman plays with absolute power and imagination. His brother Tim was a solid rhythm guitarist along with third brother Robbie on drums, keeping the rhythm section bouncing. C.F. Turner rounds out the band on bass and with some gruff vocals. When they combine, they sound like a more explosive version of Creedence Clearwater Revival. For which Turner, Randy, and Tim all follow the John Fogarty school of vocals.

Let It Ride features some of Turner’s best vocal performances on the album. Let It Ride peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it became one of BTO‘s greatest hits along with Takin’ Care of Business (also found on this album) and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (found on 1974’s Not Fragile). The song has one of the most famous sets of guitar riffs in rock history, with one being strummed and another being an inverted and mutated version of Randy Bachman‘s riff from his The Guess Who track, American WomanTakin’ Care of Business is a song that was solely written by R.Bachman while Let It Ride was co-written by Turner and R.Bachman. Takin’ Care of Business is part of the trio of the most well known BTO songs. Both Let It Ride and Takin’ Care of Business are the definition of rock and roll anthems. These two tracks are filled with massive and memorable hooks, sing/shout-along choruses that absolutely soar, guitar riffs that are both simple and fun to play.

Conclusion

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II comes in an era of rock and roll where bands were going lighter and more radio friendly pop. While Takin’ Care of Business and Let It Ride are two of the most radio friendly hits on the album, the rest of the album pales in relative comparison. Part of the reason is because it was rush and not given enough time to be fleshed out fully. However, Bachman-Turner Overdrive created an incredibly fun, easy to listen to, and gimmick-less album that stands as the album that pushed them fully into the realm of rock and roll superstars. Bachman-Turner Overdrive II gave birth to what we know as hard rock and arena rock.

(Previous Post)

Year 6, Day 9: Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Hilarity with PUP

Year 6, Day 9: PUP – The Dream Is Over

Track List

  1. If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will
  2. DVP
  3. Doubts
  4. Sleep in the Heat
  5. The Coast
  6. Old Wounds
  7. My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier
  8. Can’t Win
  9. Familiar Patterns
  10. Pine Point

About the Album

The Dream Is Over is the second studio album from Canadian punk rockers, PUP. The album was released on May 27 2016 through SideOneDummy Records and Royal Mountain Records.

Thoughts on the Album

It’s very rare that I find an album that I like where it’s two many features are chaos and unity. That’s what PUP does best. With their sophomore release, The Dream Is Over, the Canadian punk quartet offer up a satirical, realistic, humorous, and introspective take on their career and life. This album takes their self-titled debut and builds on it. Makes it angrier, more ferocious, and at certain points, downright hilarious. The album opens with If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will. It’s an airing of grievances as frontman Stefan Bobcock scoffs at quitting his dream as the rest of the members of the band are ready to kill each other. It’s one hell of a way to start off an album, with some rampant gang vocals shouted over the band members’ personal jabs at each other.

Lead single DVP highlights the growth of the guitar work with it’s speed and skill. The rapid guitars reach a breakneck pace as their struggle to keep up with Babcock’s powerful and furious vocals. Much like the album opener, DVP is chock full of humor and wit. It’s one of the album’s fiercest cuts. Do yourself a favor, and watch the official music video for this song. I don’t want to spoil it, but yeah. Can’t Win, the eighth track is instantly catchy. You will find yourself nodding your head along to it and shouting along it’s soaring chorus. Old Wounds puts the chaos on full display as it shows off it’s hardcore roots and influences. It’s like every member of the band is releasing some pent up aggression in Old Wounds.

It’s big hooks, melodic riffs, bouncing rhythm sections, and more that highlight this album. An album about rolling with the punches. Can’t Win embodies what The Dream Is Over is about. The situations that automatically beg you as an underdog and leaving you feeling destined to fail no matter what. But you’re encouraged to overcome those situations. By the time you reach Pine Point, it’s almost like you’ve become friends with the band, hearing their stories. Their testimonies. It closes the album on a tragic note, but however, points to the light on the horizon.

Conclusion

PUP spins an absolute gem of an album with The Dream Is Over. Spinning this record with an unmatched and unbridled positivity and making fun of the weights of the world seeming worked excellently for this band. It’s a punk album that’s rare: it has replay value. Coming in at exactly 30 minutes in length, The Dream Is Over is a ten song romp that’ll have you shouting along.

(Previous Post)

Year 6, Day 1: Making a Wish at “11:11” with the Arkells’ “High Noon”

Year 6, Day 1: Arkells – High Noon

Track List

  1. Fake Money
  2. Come to Light
  3. Cynical Bastards
  4. 11:11
  5. Never Thought That This Would Happen
  6. Dirty Blonde
  7. What Are You Holding On To?
  8. Hey Kids!
  9. Leather Jacket
  10. Crawling Through the Window
  11. Systemic

About the Album

High Noonis the third studio album from Hamilton, Ontario based alternative rock band, Arkells. The album was recorded in Los Angeles during 2013 and released worldwide on August 5th 2014 through Dine Alone Records. The album debuted at number three on the Canadian charts. A year later, the album was certified Gold.

Thoughts on the Album

Why, hello there and welcome to the Sounds of Broad Street: The Broad Street Playlist! If this is your first time here, welcome! If you are returning visitor, welcome back! We have finally arrived at the sixth year of the Broad Street Playlist, and I figured I would open it with one of my favorite bands in the world entire flipping world. The Arkells are one of my favorite bands, ever, of all time. Their songs speak to me in ways that some of my other favorite artists can’t or don’t. Now then, if you haven’t had a chance to see the Arkells live, go see them live. They bring enough energy to power a large city like Philadelphia. Plus, it’s pretty freaking awesome to be a part of their “Nondenominational Choir of Philadelphia”. Much like previous releases, Michigan Left and Jackson Square, you can really hear the influences that other bands had on them.

High Noon builds off the sweaty, black and blue eyed soul, rock and roll that the band mastered in their previous two releases. Whereas Jackson Square and Michigan Left where more rock oriented, the Arkells take a 1980’s Hall and Oates approach and add in some (a metric crap-ton) of complex pop-rock orchestration. The album feels like a cross between an arena rocking Springsteen album and H2O era Hall and Oates. From the first listen of High Noon, I could tell that frontman Max Kerman worked on his storytelling and this is no more prevalent than on the track, Leather Jacket.

The album opens with Fake Money, the band’s first protest song according to Kerman. While not truly one of my favorite Arkells tunes, it comes out swinging, setting the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a track that takes punk influences such as The Clash and fuses those together with the 1970’s arena rock of Electric Light Orchestra. While, for me, Fake Money opens disjointed and sloppy, there is redemption within the track. The guitar work is exceptional and drives the song, breathing life into it and building an infectiousness that will be found throughout the album.

From Fake Money, it leads right into Come to Light, one of my all time favorite Arkells tunes. Come to Light sounds like it would fit perfectly on a Tom Petty or Don Henley or even (do I dare say it?) Billy Joel album. It’s like classic Americana or heartland rock that Bruce Springsteen mastered fused with late 2000’s/early 2010’s alternative rock. It’s a heavily piano driven song with a bass line that received a blessing from LCD Soundsystem. The bass and piano drive the verses before an explosively infectious chorus that just flies high and soars above all else. I felt like Come to Light had a full blown orchestra and choir backing it, the power from it would be too much for the album to contain. Having heard this song twice live, I have to say, kudos to the band for creating such a powerful song. Definitely a song to sing along to do or in my case, air guitar along to.

From frontman Max Kerman on Come to Light:

We wanted to channel some Americana. Those classic driving songs — Running Down A Dream, Boys of Summer, Money For Nothing, etc. are always fun to play live. … Come to Light is a reminder to myself to lean on your loved ones and always try to act with love and compassion, even in times of darkness

Now we arrive at one of the band’s biggest hits, 11:11. A song that is just another pretty great song to hear live. The song wreaks (in a good way) of M83, but that probably shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the album was produced by Tony Hoffer, who has worked with them. It’s a more laid back track that after the powerful and heavy Come to Light and high energy Cynical Bastards. But don’t mistake the laid back feel for swinging and missing. I would consider this a “non-traditional” love song. Usually most love songs are slower and generally lean towards heartbreak and sadness, whereas 11:11 keeps it upbeat and most importantly: introspective. It’s a song that’ll give you some positive vibes. Outside of Come to Light and Leather Jacket11:11 has the most infectious and catchiest choruses on the entire album. Another piano driven tune that takes some simple picked guitar lines, subtle synth lines, and of all things, some xylophone (weird, I know, right? But it works…) and allows time for the drum and bass kick in and build up to into a chorus that’ll have you belting it out at the top of your lungs.

Songs about love can go in any direction — sadness, heartbreak, etc. A love song, on the other hand can only be joyous and hopeful.

While being autobiographical, according to Kerman, it still touches on other aspects of love and relationships…

…My favourite part about seeing my friends fall in love: the pedestal they put their partner on. ‘I couldn’t hold a candle to you,’ ‘I was nervous just standing with you.’ I think that kind of swooning is a very nice thing

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Leather Jacket, a song that I could see being an arena rocker. It’s a blast to hear it being played live. It’s a non-traditional rock cut, but still a blistering one. A track chorus is just as infectious as the verses. The intensity and melody of Leather Jacket absolutely power the song and knock it out of the park. A home run track if I ever heard one. An anthem that utilizes every strength the band has. It has the ability to tell a story in less that five minutes… that’s almost Springsteen levels of storytelling. Usually it takes decades, but the Arkells crushed it. Once that pre-chorus hits, you can feel that it’s about to take you for a ride. It’s an excellent and high flying, soaring chorus that, quite frankly, I haven’t heard anything that can beat it. The piano and keys shine throughout, but especially during the chorus. You can really sense the emotion and power the song delivers.

Conclusion

High Noon is takes everything that the Arkells have molded and crafted and fused it pop-rock magic. It’s album that’s full of memorable and soaring choruses. Prime examples are: Come to Light11:11, Hey Kids!, and Leather Jacket. It continues a trend of consistently catchy Canadian styled rock. With influences of musical decades past, the album has the hooks to back it up. I have to say, this was the last Arkells album I listened to, as I checked out Morning Reporttheir fourth album before this. High Noon is an album that delivers a high energy and energetic album that most certainly leave you bobbing you head and air banding along to the songs. It’s rare that an album can successfully channel so many different styles and decades of music and be successful, but High Noon does just that. But of course, this is by no means a perfect album. Some songs are swing and misses, as well as some verses. But let’s put it this way: think of it as a “Sean Couturier” type album. Album that’s rough around the edges, but when given time to develop, delivers big hits and big goals.

Tracks to Listen toCome to Light11:11Dirty Blonde, Leather Jacket, Hey Kids!, Never Thought This Would Happen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Arkells albums reviews: Jackson SquareMichigan LeftMorning Report

(Next PostPrevious Post)

Year 5, Day 5: Bringing You “Music @ Work”, The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip’s “Music @ Work” is a heady album that will grow on the listener the more they listen to it.

Year 5, Day 5: The Tragically Hip – Music @ Work

61vjt70scyl

Track List

  1. My Music at Work
  2. Tiger the Lion
  3. Lake Fever
  4. Putting Down
  5. Stay
  6. The Bastard
  7. The Completists
  8. Freak Turbulence
  9. Sharks
  10. Toronto #4
  11. Wild Mountain Honey
  12. Train Overnight
  13. The Bear
  14. As I Wind Down the Pines

About the Album

Music @ Work is the seventh (full length) album from Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip. The album was released on June 6th 2000, through Universal Music Canada. The album won the 2001 Juno Award for Best Rock Album. The album was certified double platinum in Canada.

Thoughts on the Album

Where to begin. Where to begin. The Tragically Hip are/were one of the biggest bands in Canada for over three decades. More commonly known as The Hip, they have been producing some of Canada’s most popular albums and songs to date. Not to mention they are arguably the most decorated Canadian rock band with multiple Canadian music awards, several albums peaking at number one in Canada, and several Juno Awards.

The Tragically Hip have always been a band that went heavy on wordplay, creating intelligent songs that require multiple listens to fully comprehend. Maybe that’s why they’ve struggled trying to finding a foothold south of the 49th Parallel, American listens don’t like to think when listening to music. Frontman Gord Downie‘s often cryptic lyrics are things to behold, which often times acts like a stream of consciousness.

So here we arrive at day five’s album, Music @ Work, an album that challenges the listener to think. It’s an album that followed a massively successful album in Phantom Power, and does not compromise on artistic integrity. The Hip could have (and as most American listeners would argue, should have) capitalized on their big market success with Phantom Power, but like poet Robert Frost, took the road less traveled. While the individual tracks on Music @ Work are not as compelling or gripping as songs from the previous album, the album as a whole is a more consistent one.

Tracks like The Bastard and Freak Turbulence are straightforward rockers, featuring guitar riffs and chords that swirl and thrash about, often times crashing into the pounding drums, creating this surreal experience and a seemingly sonic assault on the senses. Ballads like Toronto #4 and acoustic folk rock tunes like As I wind Down the Pines balance out the hard rockers very nicely.

It took me a while to get Music @ Work. And by “A while” I mean at listen listening through ten times. At first first listen, you’re experience will often be “huh, there’s nothing consistent with this! It’s strange!” But each subsequent listen has allowed me to hear the method to the madness. Tracks like Tiger the Lion and Sharks are prime examples. Two songs that are strange, but once you listen to them a few times, it makes sense in a “I just can’t explain it” way.

Now then, the titular track has a very Neil Young feel to it. It’s purposely left unpolished. My Music at Work‘s stream of consciousness style lyrics will ultimately have you thinking the same thing Downie was singing. The lyrics on My Music at Work are in contrast to the rest of the album with the rest of album having some rather dark views on the human condition. What My Music at Work highlights Downie trying to improve said condition by bringing his issues to light…

Everything is bleak,

It’s the middle of the night,

You’re all alone and the dummies might be right,

You feel like a jerk,

My music at work.

Conclusion

As I asked in the beginning, “where to begin?”, the “no duh” answer is “track one”. But that’s not it. Music @ Work is a complex work of music artistry. The variety on the album is a thing of beauty, and while most would say that’s what hurts this album, I disagree to an extend. Too much variety is a bad thing, but Music @ Work brings just enough variety were it is not too much. The album is a poetic one with artistic force behind it. The heady lyrics combined with the thrashing guitars and pounding drums just highlights it. The album has an undeniable uniqueness about it.

But it’s more than just an undeniable uniqueness… it’s an original.

(Next postPrevious post)