Album of the Week: Gord Downie, The Sadies and The Conquering Sun

gord_sadies_sun_coverWhen two musical entities get together to make an album, you never really know what to expect. It could be like that load of crap Metallica & Lou Reed put out a few years ago — and it’s still a shame it’s the last release with Lou’s name on it — or it could be something truly incredible like The Roots’ and John Legend’s Wake Up! that hit record store shelves in 2010. But if you take the unexpectedness of it all, mix in a music legend and a band from Canada, neither of which gained prominence in the states, you get The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and The Sadies who joined forces to put out a masterpiece of a rock & roll record. Both acts are huge with our neighbors up north, but in my opinion, it’s a great injustice that neither Gord nor The Sadies have tasted the same success in America. Get acquainted with real rock and uncover a diamond to add to your music library.

What I love most about this album is that it’s a grand mix of roots, punk and blues, which reminds me a lot of The Hip’s early material from the ’80s. Downie croons like an amalgamation of Iggy Pop and Frank Sinatra while The Sadies let it rip to rhythmic smithereens. It’s an intense album that isn’t afraid to explore; some tracks are simply electrifying while others have a lot of heart and emotion. You can’t help but fall in love with the variety. Whether you like it hard and fast or soft and meaningful, this new album from Gord and The Sadies will put you in a state of bliss. It’s straightforward and wide-ranging at the same time, which is a rarity — most bands stick to one style throughout an entire record.

Now for the top tracks off of my Album of the Week. “Crater” is a fuzzy opus that oozes emphatic amplification that you can’t help but blast out of your speakers. The edgy riffs and drums are bound to make your ears cave in, so listen responsibly. One of the best punk tracks I’ve heard in 2014 is “It Didn’t Start To Break My Heart Until This Afternoon.” Downie finds his inner angsty youth and makes you feel as if he’s going to punch you in the face through your headphones. The bluesiness of “One Good Fast Job” has a gangster-eqsue tinge to it. I kind of want to listen to it on repeat while watching Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, but then I’ll feel like one of those dumb wastoids who thinks that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon is the perfect soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz. Regardless of your wastoid status, you’re bound to fall in love with Gord Downie & The Sadies’ new album.

Gord and The Sadies put on one hell of a show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass., on May 3 and they’ll be playing at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on May 10. Who knows when both acts will be touring together again, but if you get the chance to see Gord perform solo or with The Tragically Hip or if The Sadies roll through your friendly neighborhood music venue, I highly suggest you catch it.

Since this column is over and done until next week, there’s only one more task left for you to accomplish. Get your hands on Gord Downie,The Sadies and The Conquering Sun. It’s rock & roll from our neighbors up north that’s just as awesome as putting cheese and gravy on your french fries.

Gord Downie:  gorddownie.com

The Sadies: thesadies.net

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