Bob Baker

REVIEW: The Tragically Hip – We Are the Same (2009)

THE TRAGICALLY HIP – We Are the Same (2009

“Later” records by bands are often overlooked in favour of a handful of classics, usually released early in a band’s first decade.  Here is one that should not be ignored:  We Are the Same, The Tragically Hip’s mellow 2009 offering.  Sure, the Hip had plenty of late career highlights.  But something about We Are the Same just connects.  It’s like plugging your soul into the great wide Canadian open, autumn-coloured maple leaves tossing in a cold breeze.  The rustling is accented by a softly wafting smell of coffee.

We Are the Same sounds (for a largely acoustic album anyway) absolutely massive.  Thank you, Bob Rock.  Perhaps there’s even a concept to this Gord Downie-driven album: it opens with a song called “Morning Moon” and ends with “Country Day”.  From the beginning, the chords of the Canadian prairies jangle on acoustic guitars.  Familiar hints of Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot fill the room, while Downie sings of a golden Labour Day.

You’ll hear lush string and piano accompaniment all over We Are the Same (piano by Barenaked Ladies‘ Kevin Hearn).  Take second track “Honey, Please” which is as pop as the Hip were ever likely to get.  Johnny Fay’s snare drum splashes are the only recall from the old days.  Then, one of the most luxurious tracks.  It’s also one of the best: album highlight “The Last Recluse”.  It delivers strange melodies wrapped in lonely imagery.  “Who are you? The last Canada goose”.

Geoff over at 1001albumsin10years says “I  have argued it is the best side 1 in the catalogue.”  I wouldn’t dare disagree.

“Coffee Girl” with its loop-like drums and trumpet solo is one of the more unusual, but also most successful compositions.  Downie had a miraculous way with words.

Your favourite mixed tape,
You popped it into the deck,
Don’t care if it’s out of date,
Old Cat Power and classic Beck.

The first big rock chords come crashing down on “Now the Struggle Has a Name”, also adorned with regal strings.  As great as it is, it’s just preamble to a Hip epic:  “The Depression Suite”, a multi-parted masterpiece.  It sparkles and growls, brilliantly and eloquently through a maze of quintessential Gord travelogue lyrics.

Peaking with a track like “The Depression Suite” only means the second half of the album has much to live up to.  An Aerosmith-like “The Exact Feeling” (can’t you just hear “Jaded”?) is the first song that feels like a drop.  But then “Queen of the Furrows” is a gentle acoustic song with delightful picking.  Until an explosive chorus kicks in, drawing your attention again.  Cool noisy guitar solo to boot!

The final four tracks are consistent, with “Frozen in My Tracks” being the strangest and heaviest, and “Love is a First” the strongest.  Its’ beat poetry and sharp bassline are the main hooks, but the chorus is a blast.  Yet it’s still clearly a case of the final few songs living in the shadow of the first.

An album this brilliant needs to be enjoyed over time, but do be sure to add it to your collection.  [See below for our recommended edition.]

4.5/5 stars

…Since you’re going to need this album one way or another, our recommended version if you can find it, is the “Kollector’s Krate”.  Kool Krate’s were an inconvenient way to store discs, but here’s one with a Tragically Hip logo on it.  Stuffed inside: a We Are the Same T-shirt, and a rare live bonus CD.  Whether Live From the Vault Vol. 4 is worth over $300 or not, that’s between you and Discogs.  (And that’s just the CD, without the Krate or T-shirt!)

 

 

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

The final part in my series of Trailer Park Boys reviews, as we gear up for the debut of Seasons 8 & 9! 

IMG_20140712_183919Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5
Part five: Season 6
Part six: Season 7
Part seven: “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

TPB-SGTTBG_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” (2008 Alliance Atlantis)

“Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”, the “final” Trailer Park Boys episode before the big movie Countdown to Liquor Day, is actually one of my least favourite episodes (right down there with “Steve French” and “Oscar Goldman”). A one hour special tacked on after Season 7, “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” follows Ricky, Julian and Bubbles after their big haul at the end of the last season. It took two years to finally do a DVD/Blu-ray release.  To date, this is the only Trailer Park Boys episode released to Blu-ray.  The movies, of course, are available on Blu.

Thought that the boys had finally made it rich, and everything was sweet? You’d certainly think so after seeing the hunky-dory last episode in Season 7. This is not the case! Turns out Julian has hidden the money, until such time as he feels it’s safe to distribute it. Ricky’s Shitmobile does have some sweet new rims, but it is now missing a tire. Old recurring nemesis Sam Losco knows about the cash, and with the help of Barb Lahey, finds out where it’s hidden. Before you can say “shit tides”, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are broke once again, and Lahey is back on the liquor.

Another scheme is hatched, this time revolving around a Country & Western dance. Can the boys make a little cash, or will Lahey win yet again? One thing for certain: you can count on some dirty dancing, backstabbing schemes, and Philadelphia Collins eating balogna sandwiches.  That I promise you.

Look for cameos by The Tragically Hip (specifically Gordon Downie and Bob Baker).  Blu-ray bonus features are sparse either way, just some behind-the-scenes stuff.  It does come with a cool Bubbles-as-Scarface mini poster though.  That would look cool in your man-cave.

Unfortunately “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” did not feel like a proper episode. It felt like an afterthought. It was revealed that a full season was intended, but all those ideas were distilled down into one episode.  Good thing the boys will be back on TV this fall.

3/5 stars