If the aristocracy can't hear these large, ringing hymns to the hoi polloi because they're too high up on Bailout Hill then it's up to us in the trenches to storm the gates, overturn the golf carts and raid the botox parties with The Litter and the Leaves cranked to the max, leading the charge.
It ain't often I get to say this anymore, but Gutter Anthems never lets up and there's nothing on this seventh disc by this intelligent and crackling five-piece, Toronto band not to love. Leavening the jig- punk of the Dropkick Murphy's and the loud snarl of Black 47 with African beats, the pristine Suburban Plains rolls into your ears and into your brain, hanging there like a star in the night, until the twin riffing crunch of fiddle/guitar echoes back from The Death of Johnny Mooring or the Irish folk-rock of Real Life leads into the big pop of Alibis. This trio of noteworthy songs then gets turned on their head with the reel based, synth-rock instrumental, Murphy's Ashes, Sea of Crutches and Broken Line are, for the lack of my own in-ability to verbalize it any better, songs they invented the replay app for. Add a dead-on nod to Canadian Elder Leonard Cohen (Burn My Demons") and you begin to rightly suspect a musical surprise/gift with every track.
Throughout these fifteen break-out performances, ETH—Trevor Lewington, Brian Buchanan, Craig Downie, Mark Abraham, and James Campbell—gel 'n jam their concise, free-ranging songs with a concentrated power and conviction all too rare in the business they're battling as fierce indies. I would suggest that, for those of us just reaching awareness of ETH, we play this disc for friends and family, then all listen backwards through previous releases (Soapbox Heroes, Casualties of Retail) to see how the band have reached this defining moment.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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