Tragically Hip: The Series – We Are The Same (2009)

This is truly one of the great bands. Think about it: For over twenty years, this same group of guys has made consistently brilliant records, toured constantly, and shown us how to care about great music, books, and this country as much as they do. They’re on their quest, same as anybody, and spend more time looking outward for new and creative things. That’s why this latest record fills me with so much glee. It’s another bold step towards new sounds and approaches, still shaking things up after all these years and making it sound fresh while they’re at it. The songs here are crystal clear, allowing the obvious, and by now ubiquitous excellence in the writing to step to the fore.

I heard Morning Moon everywhere, for a while. Even in retail stores. You know how I feel already about the music in stores being the end of the road for those songs, or the place where songs that have been shitty since they were written go to writhe for eternity in pop hell. But this track shone out of the muck and mire like a beacon of light and truth, a rare gem in a shit pile, its pleasant groove pulling me along with it and making me smile every time. Honey, Please is hot on its heels with its uplifting riff and completely catchy lyrics. The Last Recluse pulls things in a bit closer to the chest, asking big questions we all need to ask. From there, we dive straight into funky and quirky (and talk of mix tapes) with Coffee Girl. I love this song! It should totally be a single. Love the trumpet line, too.

Now we step back in pace a bit, again, with Now The Struggle Has A Name. I can imagine this song being an absolutely powerful experience in concert. It soars. Deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled for a minute. There’s some real work being done here. From there we roll beautifully into The Depression Suite, a tight, mid-tempo splash across a canvas. Let it take you with it and you’ll be grateful, indeed. The riffs get heavier in The Exact Feeling, the culmination of the perfect build of the past couple of songs.

Queen Of The Furrows brings the acoustic guitars to the front and eventually lets the electrics blare. This song is road-trip material, gliding past the rocks, trees and water of our great home, full of the energetic need to explore. And what a guitar solo! Next up is the fantastic rocker Speed River, which makes me wonder if it’s about the river by the same name in Guelph, or if it’s just an idea Gordie came up with in one of his frequent bursts of creativity… great track, either way. And they’re not done with us, either! Frozen In My Tracks has a monster riff, and would absolutely tear the roof off the mothersucker in concert. This song is huge in every way.

Buried way down here in the track list is the first single, Love Is A First, yet another catchy song that makes it impossible to sit still while you’re listening to it. I love that the lyrics are (to me) fairly obviously the result of Gordie’s concert ramblings and lyrical meanderings. If they’re not, well, I can still totally hear him doing it. Stands up on par with any other track they’ve released to radio, easily. And then we jolt rather unceremoniously and abruptly into the last track of this record, Country Day. That really could have been mixed better… Anyway, the closer is another classic mid-range with occasional acoustic guitars track, which is nonetheless completely engrossing and engaging. And orchestral strings! So cool!

In sum: You guessed it – I love this record. Simple as that.

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