Record Review: Eamon McGrath – “Young Canadians”
This review originally appeared at Exclaim.ca
On his third album proper, Eamon McGrath blazes a jingoistic path in an attempt to capture what defines Canada and its music. And while it’s up for debate as to whether the album lives up to such lofty ambitions, there’s no doubt that Young Canadians is easily McGrath’s best effort yet.
More sonically varied than 2010’s Peacemaker, the record namechecks influences both figuratively (Neil Young, the Band) and literally (Ramones, Minor Threat) while laying bare the close ties shared by folk and punk rock. His trademark howl finds great company with the raging guitars of “Rabid Dog,” while he showcases a rarely seen soulful side on “Instrument of My Release.” The title track, inspired by Sidney Crosby’s game-winning Olympic Hockey goal, is the most on the nose of the bunch, but it’s thundering pace and “pour one for the young Canadians” refrain prove that McGrath is capable of walking the line between rock anthem and nationalistic schmaltz.
However, for all its bluster, the sparse “Auditorium” comes across as the album’s most rousing song, a paean to a life spent in punk. It would be easy to pick on Young Canadians for its overt sonic references and McGrath’s reverence for his heroes, but doing so misses the point entirely. And, more importantly, ruins the fun of listening to a great record.