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This Week on my i-pod #8 – New Stuff from Sam Roberts

April 23rd, 2006

As I mentioned a while ago, I love discover new music. Last year I took a rider on a couple of CDs that interested me for different reasons, and found Dave Matthews Band’s Stand Up and the Foo Fighters In Your Honor to be CDs that I enjoyed a lot. In the past few weeks I have tried The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys, both enjoyable bands (although in the latter case, maybe not worth all the fuss). This week I added Sam Roberts Chemical City to the hard drive and loved it.

I first heard Sam Roberts during the CBC fawn-fest that was Sars-A-Palooza two summers ago. Sam Roberts opened that show, and got a fair bit of airplay. I thought he was alright, but not great. But hey, at least he looked Rock and Roll, can’t say that for Justin Timberlake! (Actually, Mom always said “if you can’t say anything nice about someone…” so I can’t say anything about Justin Timberlake). When The new Sam Roberts album was released recently to moderate to good reviews, claiming it was a roots CD, I was interested. Listening to it this week, I have to tell you, it is far better than the reviews give it credit for.

Many of the reviews stated this album is good, but looses focus at spots, and it’s not an assessment I would disagree with. The problem is, the lost focus is a far smaller part of this CD than you would get the impression from the critics.

Chemical City starts with a great song, The Gate. It is very reminiscent of some early 70’s stuff and would not have been out of place then. The intro actually reminds me of Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle, but it quickly changes gears and rocks up. A very solid song, and a very solid start.

When I’m trying something new, here’s how it works. The CD generally has one or two songs to impress me. After that you run the serious risk that I lose interest. On this one thirty seconds in, I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna like this.’ That means my mind is far more open to the rest. The second song, the acoustic laced Bridge to Nowhere is equally good, and equally at home 30 years ago.

As a Conservative blog, I should mention An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay. Based on the title, I thought oh no! Even Sam Roberts has to have an anti-Bush, anti-Iraq diatribe. Fortunately, it was a piece about a Viet Nam draft dodger who rebuilt his life in Canada. No moralising, a straight story lyric that was, in fact, an upbeat, hummable piece that I quite enjoyed.

Overall, this is a good CD that I think is going to get a good wearing out in my player. If you are thinking of taking a chance on something new this year, you could do a lot worse than Sam Roberts Chemical City.

This Week on my I-Pod

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