Posts Tagged ‘ Young Canadians

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.

“Great Lakes”

Live Review: Eamon McGrath @ Bovine Sex Club, Toronto 02/18/2012

This review originally appeared at Exclaim.ca

Playing exclusively new material is a ballsy move, even for the most established artists. So when Toronto-based musician Eamon McGrath announced he’d be playing his forthcoming album, Young Canadians, in its entirety, in order, it seemed to indicate that he was either extremely confident in the new songs or lacked basic business sense.

The ploy seemed to pay off, though, as the bar was packed by the time McGrath and his three-piece band took the stage around midnight. “This is Young Canadians,” he announced as they launched into album opener “Eternal Adolescence.” While McGrath could be seen flitting about the bar chatting with friends and supporters before the show, once at the mic, the 23-year-old maintained an incredible focus, his raspy vocals cutting through his overdriven guitars.

The record’s more upbeat numbers, such “Rabid Dog” and the title track, were unsurprising crowd pleasers. McGrath’s years in Edmonton’s punk underground reared their head as he leaped and thrashed around the stage. His backing band did a good job of toughening up the slower, more delicate compositions, the lap steel/keyboard player seated to McGrath’s left doing and excellent job delivering some of the album’s more subtle textures.

“Auditorium,” a haunting paean to the concept of punk, proved to be the evening’s highlight before the band finished their set with album closer “Saskatoon, SK.” McGrath and co. started to pack up but were quickly coaxed backed to their instruments for a three-song encore that included covers of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” and “Fuckin’ Up,” and ended abruptly when the drummer hopped over his kit to tackle McGrath to the stage floor.

The night proved that McGrath has the rare combination of both talent and ambition with a stellar album in the can, and the driven personality to deliver it to the masses. When Young Canadians drops at the end of next month, it’s hard to imagine the singer not graduating to larger venues as his star rises on the Canadian music scene. Best get in on the ground floor now — you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Photo: Eamon McGrath @ the Bovine, Toronto 02/18/2012