With two gold records to their credit and 14 top 10 Canadian singles, The Trews have nothing to prove to anyone.
They have firmly established themselves as one of this country’s top rock acts, packing venues from coast to coast and cultivating a growing fan base in the U.S, the U.K. and Australia.
Some acts at this point in their career might be tempted to play it safe.
The Trews are not one of those acts.
Their latest project, simply titled The Trews, is the work of a band that strongly believes that if they are going to continue to grow it is both necessary and important to take chances and to experiment.
They have done so here. And for their efforts they have been rewarded with a record that kicks serious butt.
By their own admission this record contains so many firsts that even band members Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald, Sean Dalton and Jack Syperek admit to being a little flabbergasted by what they achieved here.
Guitarist John-Angus MacDonald, who shared production credits for the record with Gavin Brown, put everything into perspective in this recent quote.
“I think with every record, you are kind of re-applying for the job. There are so many bands out there, so many good ones, the fact that we get to keep going is a privilege. And as much as you get better and wiser with your craft, you still have to be ear-to-the-ground competitive. There is pressure in that.”
Pressure seems to bring out the best in The Trews. So does working with Brown, whose previous studio credits include sessions with acts like The Tragicaly Hip, Metric, Sarah Harmer and Barenaked ladies.
While they likely could have produced the record by themselves they wanted somebody with Brown’s well-tuned ears, his experience and his skill set on deck.
“And I think with our band, self-production would be a one-way ticket to divorce. We all respect each other, but it’s always good to have that sounding board. Gavin is a giant personality who works quickly with such precision. So we entered that orbit and it made for a really interesting time. I’d do it again tomorrow.”
The band wrote some 30 songs for the record, which they eventually whittled down to 11. That’s a lot of music to set aside, but lead vocalist/guitarist Colin MacDonald said the band is getting better at pinpointing when a song is good and when it’s not.
“That’s what happens when you make five albums and tour all the time.”
You certainly can’t fault any of their choices for this record. It’s a fairly diverse mix, with gritty rockers like the album’s first single, What’s Fair Is Fair and the wicked anti-bullying song New King, vying for your attention with the almost Beatle-esque pop of Living The Dream and acoustic gems like In The Morning — which features Serena Ryder as a guest vocalist — and 65 Roses, the latter a wonderful song inspired by their former booking agent Paul Gourlie who succumbed to cystic fibrosis last May.
The record is rock solid from beginning to end, from the strength of the writing and the calibre of the band’s work in the studio to the quality of the production.
That they made the right choices with this record is clear from the reception it has received. What’s Fair Is Fair quickly became the most added song at Canadian Active Rock radio when it was released.
The album debuted at No. 1 on three different charts — hard rock, alternative and indie albums — and is/was the third overall best selling album in the country. The record was a huge hit for some fans even before it hit the streets. That’s because they got to go into the studio during the recording process and add handclaps to some tracks, a thank you for contributing to the band’s PledgeMusic campaign.
This record is going to be around for awhile.
Choice offerings include Rise In The Wake, What’s Fair Is Fair, New King, Living the Dream, 65 Roses and In the Morning.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-6000, ext. 6057.