Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gord Downie & the Country of Miracles: "The Grand Bounce" (album review)

For someone of my generation it's hard to imagine a Canadian musician as iconic as Gord Downie.  During most of my teenage years, The Tragically Hip in this country rivaled international supergroups like U2 in popularity.

In the last decade or so though, it could be argued that The Hip have been coasting on reputation.  Over that same time Downie has delved into other project including solo albums and poetry.  On June 8th, he releases his third solo record, The Grand Bounce.

Once again this album sees Downie backed by the ever capable Country Of Miracles.  What is new this time around though is the assistance of Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie fame.

Through the vast majority of the album it's difficult to see what, if anything Walla's presence brought to the table.  The songs sound like typical Downie.  It's poetry filled with Canadian imagery and character studies set to run-of-the-mill folk and roots rock.  The melodies are pleasant, but unexceptional.  The energy level is barely measurable.  As a whole it feels like we've been hearing these same songs from Downie since the mid-90s.

The hard driving "The Drowning Machine" and the Hip-style rocker "Night Is For Getting" are among a handful of tracks jerk you out of the rut.  The album's only real innovation comes in the form of "Moonslow Yer Lashes", a track that sees Downie add an almost New Wave element to his folk rock repertoire.  Aesthetically the results aren't perfect, but they are fascinating from an artistic perspective.

If you view music as a platform on which to deliver poetry (and you don't like it very intense), then you'll enjoy The Grand Bounce.  In the end though, the album does precious little to add or detract from Gord Downie's musical legacy.

Best tracks: "Moonslow Yer Lashes", "Moon Over Glenora"

Track listing for The Grand Bounce:
  • The Grand Bounce
  • Moon Over Glenora
  • As A Mover
  • The Dance And Its Disappearance
  • The Hard Canadian
  • Gone
  • The Drowning Machine
  • Yellow Days
  • Night Is For Getting
  • Moonslow Yer Lashes
  • Retrace
  • Broadcast
  • Pinned
6.0/10

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the last decade or so though, it could be argued that The Hip have been coasting on reputation. That is hilarious ! The Tragically Hip have gotten better and better with each album (IMO). The Difference or improvement from the first album to we are the same are absolutely huge. I can't wait to hear this album and enjoy it....this will only increase my interest in this album and the next Tragically Hip album !!

As a whole it feels like we've been hearing these same songs from Downie since the mid-90s.
Again a silly comment ? What was the last album you listened to ?? Fully Completely ?


You sir are and idiot and a dumbass haha

hipfan

Anonymous said...

It would be great of you to know meanings behind songs before passing judgement. Some songs are just ment to be soft. Take 'pinned', a song recorded on a laptop on a VIA train headed back to Toronto from a hard hitting funeral. Would you like that to have more energy?

T.O. Snob said...

No, but something that makes the song interesting in any way, shape or form would be welcomed.

Anonymous said...

I've listened to this new Gord Downie release many times over the past few weeks and it is quickly becoming one of my favourite cd's in my collection. I am a huge Hip fan but I see no reason to enjoy the Hip to enjoy this release. It is different artistically from previous Hip releases, in a good way. This new Downie cd not only has it's beautiful moments but it also has dark and moving moments which keep me listening and admiring the man who continues to re-invent his music and himself.

Lisa said...

"Aesthetically the results aren't perfect, but they are fascinating from an artistic perspective."

This sentence seems so sad and even pointless to me. I sincerely believe that not one person on this planet could actually offer a definition of such a thing as aesthetic perfection. However, I also believe that each and every one of us, if we are "lucky", and, especially, open, can sense, feel, and share perfect beauty in any given moment. That is what Gord Downine and The Country of Miracles offered to me last night.