For a guy as in love with Canadian classic rock as I am, I sure am dumb when it comes to the modern/future torch carriers of Canadian rock music. Recently – August 1st to be exact – I was able to catch The Trews live for free (my friends paid for my ticket as long as I was the DD.) For years I’ve been hearing mention of The Trews, not realizing just how many songs of theirs I’ve heard on a daily basis on the radio. After putting on one hell of a show, one that I’d have to say was my favourite of all the concerts I attended this summer, I decided it was time I gave these future Canadian Music Hall of Fame shoo-ins a chance. But the point of this review is their fifth and most recent self titled album; one that sees the band grow further in to a mature an comfortable rock sound.
Lead by the MacDonald brothers, Colin and John-Angus, each album released to date has had at least one hit song that makes people go “oh, that’s them?” The future will tell us for sure, but for this album I believe one of those songs will be opening track Rise in the Wake. I’ve heard this song daily on the radio since that concert and I’ve yet to grow tired of it despite all of the listens I’ve given it. It’s a solid rock track with a memorable riff, something the band has been very good at doing, with a chorus that it easy enough to remember so that by the second chorus you can sing along. Again, something the band perfected way back on their 2003 debut House of Ill Fame with both of that albums hits Not Ready to Go and Tired of Waiting.
Age of Miracles has that organic rock sound that allows The Trews to be mentioned in the same sentence as The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo. It is a light hearted song with real emotion to it, something that The Trews have been good at doing. Most songs on the album are like this, such as following tracks Permanent Love and The Sentimentalist.
65 Roses is an acoustic heavy song, and I can’t think of another band right now that could make an acoustic song sound so natural when placed in the middle of an album filled with electric guitar driven rock songs. I don’t find the other acoustic song on the album, In The Morning, to be as good. It does feature Serena Ryder, who has an undeniably great voice, but it doesn’t have the passion that I feel the band could have been capable of. It is catchy though thanks to the guitar playing.
Two other songs I’ve heard on the radio from the album are the more serious number What’s Fair Is Fair, and my favourite song on the album Where There’s Love. The former provides the perfect change to the albums sound with its more prominent drum beat and darker sound. The latter is the opposite, with a fast pace, a guitar riff that sticks in my head and passionately sung verses that make this a unique love song that I don’t believe any other band could have pulled off.
New King is arguably the hardest rocking song on the album, which is really its only significance. It is frankly a borderline forgettable song. I guess the album as a whole wouldn’t be the same without it, but it just doesn’t stand out. It’s followed by Living The Dream, which is one last Trews-esque heartfelt feel good rock song. It may not stand out compared to others on the album, but it’s undeniable when listening to it that it’s a great track.
The Trews end their self titled album with Under The Sun. I think Living The Dream would have been a better song to end the album with, because it’s a much better song, but I guess there is a nice goodbye feeling to this songs acoustic/electric mixed guitars with a very noticable rhythm section keeping this from being just anouther acoustic song.
The Trews have come a long since their 2003 debut album. Back then they only seemed to know how to write two or three really good songs, then just fill an album with okay to downright forgettable tunes. With this self titled album The Trews do almost the opposite, with the exception of the album kind of trailing off toward the end. The songs that are good on the album are downright terrific, otherwise there are a few songs that can take a few listens to even begin to appreciate. Luckily the number of songs that such a description fits is at a minimum.
“Permanent Love” – Though Where There’s Love is my favourite song on the album and Rise In The Wake may seem like the logical choice for a highlight, I believe Permanent Love best depicts the band at their best on the album. It shows just enough of a soft side to appeal to the sentimentalists out there (I swear that pun was unintentional) but it doesn’t have enough of a soft side to scare away rock fans that want a good melodic rock song that sounds great all the way through.
9 (Out of 10)
- “Rise in the Wake” – 4:00
- “Age of Miracles” – 3:34
- “Permanent Love” – 4:44
- “The Sentimentalist” – 4:18
- “65 Roses” – 4:00
- “What’s Fair Is Fair” – 3:18
- “Where There’s Love” – 4:40
- “In the Morning” (featuring Serena Ryder) – 4:34
- “New King” – 2:38
- “Living the Dream” – 4:56
- “Under the Sun” – 3:59