Monday, October 29, 2012

Ron Hawkins and the Do Good Assassins: "Rome" (album review)

Ron Hawkins has been churning out solid rock and roll for over two decades, dating back to his time with the iconic Lowest Of The Low.  He's back with a new group, the Do Good Assassins, and a new album, Rome.

Rome isn't your standard debut.  No, instead it's a 20-song, 2-disc affair, comprised of a rock record and a country record.

The new bandmates seem to have reinvigorated Hawkins for the rock record.  It is some of his strongest, most accessible, and entertaining work in years.  It's vibrant, honest, and just the right amount of raw.

It all kicks off with the sub-2-minute blast of rock n' roll "Sadder Days".  "Last Casanova In Town" is ridiculously hook-laden.  "Home Sweet Home" is a fiery yet welcoming rocker, complete with handclaps.

Hawkins is in full blue-collar mode on "Public Transit", coming closer than ever to sounding like Springsteen. The most interesting track may be "NYC vs Jeffrey Brown", where the band get downright funky and soulful.

The country side is a completely different story.  Hawkins and company play it way too safe.  Tracks like "Swing Low", "A Little Rain", and "Little Volcano" are dull and uninspiring.  Similarly, the plodding "Spotlight" fails to ignite any interest.

A handful of the country numbers do strike a chord.  "Us Eat Them" is a lively ditty, while you can imagine yourself in the saddle during "Rusty Chain".  Though not as high-energy, "In the Chest of the Land" is a lovely drowsy song.

Rome is a hard album to judge.  The rock portion is among the top few records that you're likely to hear this year.  The country portion leaves you wanting.  In the end it's a both exhilarating and disappointing.

The Do Good Assassins play the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on November 1st.

Best tracks: "NYC vs Jeffrey Brown", "Home Sweet Home"

Track listing for Rome:
Rock album
  • Sadder Days
  • Fire Alarm
  • Public Transit
  • Propellers
  • NYC vs Jeffrey Brown
  • Last Casanova In Town
  • Spy in the 9 to 5
  • Wrap You Up and Take You Home
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Bobby Was the DA
Country album
  • Capistrano
  • Too Far
  • Swing Low
  • In the Chest of the Land
  • Spotlight
  • Rusty Chain
  • A Little Rain
  • Us Eat Them
  • Little Volcano
  • Rome

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