Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gord Downie & The Sadies: "And the Conquering Sun" (album review)

The Sadies have spent a lot of time in recent years doing collaboration albums.  The Toronto roots mainstays have teamed up with the likes of John Doe and Andre Williams.  So hooking up with legendary Canadian singer Gord Downie for the new record And the Conquering Sun, makes a shit-ton of sense.

The opening track, "Crater", foreshadows what we're in for.  It is a clattery, sprawling number in the ilk of the Tragically Hip's recent output, with the vaguest of nods to The Sadies' roots style.  The same can be said for "I'm Free, Disarray Me", and the snoozer closer "Saved".

We're finally treated to some good twangy licks on the otherwise uninspiring "Los Angeles Times".  Similarly, "Budget Shoes" and "Devil Enough" are too pedestrian to be considered anything greater than 'fine'.

One thing that becomes apparent very quickly is that Downie's vocal delivery has worn out it's welcome.  At one point it was fresh and unique.  On the title track, however, the vocals degenerating into 'conqueRerrrRerurRrrr...' is downright grating.

A handful of tracks do stand out.  The bluesy bar rocker "One Good Fast Job" and the breakneck "It Didn't Start To Break My Heart Until This Afternoon" are both solid harder cuts.  "Demand Destruction" delivers the toe-tapping jangly hooks that were hoped for from the outset.

This project sounded very promising when it was first announced.  The reality, however, is that it is far too much Downie and far too little Sadies.

Gord Downie & The Sadies play Field Trip in Toronto on June 8th.

Best tracks: "One Good Fast Job", "Demand Destruction"

Track listing for And the Conquering Sun:
  • Crater
  • The Conquering Sun
  • Los Angeles Times
  • One Good Fast Job
  • It Didn't Start To Break My Heart Until This Afternoon
  • Budget Shoes
  • Demand Destruction
  • Devil Enough
  • I'm Free, Disarray Me
  • Saved

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