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coverpic flag Canada - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 28 - 01/31/99

Thrush Hermit
Clayton Park
Sonic Unyon

I already decided I was going to like this album before I opened it. I was disappointed and dismayed by Sloan's attempt at a 70s rock album this year, and I was determined not to be disappointed by this one. Unlike Sloan, I can let Thrush Hermit get away with this because they have always, and will always be the ultimate rock anthem band, while Sloan are a pop band trying to play their own songs like covers. Sure, maybe some will think this album went too far, reeking of Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, and Thin Lizzy, but somehow the Hermit still come out on top.

As always, the lyrics are slick as can be, the riffs are cheesy but undeniably captivating. It's the kind of record that makes you want to rock out, big time. Tracks like Violent Dreams and The Day We Hit the Coast remind one of the Hermit's whack at a major-label album Sweet Homewrecker (Elektra), but head off into a new era in rock. Most of the material on the album is old, since the album was recorded in May 1998 at the Gas Station in Toronto, and the songs have long since become prominent on the Hermit set lists. But for those who have not had the ecstasy of participating in a recent Thrush Hermit audience, this stuff will rock your socks off. It does a much better job than Sweet Homewrecker of corralling the Thrush Hermit live spazz onto compact disc. Clayton Park is the Halifax suburb where the then babyfaced Hermits first started slapping out tunes, and it somehow seems a suitable title since this will be the last Hermit disc to feature drummer Cliff Gibb. Cliff has left the band, and has been replaced with the out-of-place, yet talented East-coast notable Benn Ross. Clayton Park was recorded with Dale Morningstar's laid back approach, so the album is allowed to go off on a bit more of a tangent than say The Great Pacific Ocean (Murderrecords, recorded by Steve Albini), or the saucy but slick angle taken on Sweet Homewrecker (by Doug Easley). But this tangent is well suited to the material on the album.

Clayton Park has the flare and pizzazz offered by a release that takes advantage of the wonderful songwriting ability of Rob, Ian and Joel. Rob has written a wonderful ballad called Western Dreamz that offers some relief from the hyperactivity offered by the relentless riffs in the rest of the album. Indeed there are many good ballads, and a lot of longish but inventive songs. The album is dripping with hooks and wild riffs, and garnished with some superb ballads and rock anthems. You don't have to spend your days longing for a 70s rock comeback to appreciate the pure genius behind these songs, and the way they are presented. Thrush Hermit have outdone themselves once again.

Clayton Park comes out on Sonic Unyon Records on February 9th.

Copyright © 1999 Laura Bowman e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Thrush Hermit article/review: Sweet Homewrecker.

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