Reviews:: Gord Downie The Grand Bounce

I’m no different than most Canadians I’d say. I’ve owned and enjoyed Hip records in the past. I’ve felt that hint of National pride seeing them play in a foreign country. I’ve even pretended to not like songs they’ve written simply to avoid being associated with the people that comprise the band’s fan base. Good or bad, the fact the Hip has been a part of my life for a long time is undeniable, but like toying with the idea of growing dreads, sleeping on futons, eating shitty late-night food or pounding beers, I’ve left most of their identifiable anthems behind me. In all honesty, if my boss wasn’t the biggest Hip fan in the world, I probably would have left The Grand Bounce in my inbox for months before simply deleting it.


After taking some extended time with the record, I realize that would have been a mistake. It’s no secret that Gord Downie is a gifted lyricist; the man can transform the simplest of expression, the slightest look or most casual encounter into a 4-minute song that bellows over the noise or brings a stadium to a hush. That kind of talent obviously dominates his third solo record, as do the familiar vocal runs but reuniting with The Country of Miracles (Julie Doiron, Dave Clark, Dale Morningstar, Josh Finlayson and John Press) - and exploring a newly developed sonic bond with producer (and Death Cab guitar wiz) Chris Walla allows Downie to refresh his sound and renew his relevance to Canada’s music community.


The breezy, late summer evening feel that makes up The Grand Bounce showcases some of the same country leanings, but a much tighter structure than his previous solo work and I think that stems from the decision to let his band and producer have a say in the final results. Even the most cynical Hip deserter will hear “Moon Over Glenora”, a track that lets Gord’s trademark voice mesh with Julie Doiron’s quirky, off-kilter harmonies, heavy keyboard and charging guitars and drums, and realize things are different. Sure, the first minute or two of “Gone” could easily fit into any of Downie’s records, but the slow build and static that thickens the mix is an unexpected treat. So is the more orchestral arrangement of “Broadcast”, the fact that black and whites replace guitar onslaughts and how Walla subtly shifts the songs into an interesting new-wave/folk hybrid. All of these changes and experiments show that Downie comfortable pushing his limits wwhen he is free to step outside of the confines of expectations.


For a man that’s known for writing songs without the restriction of knowing who will perform them (In Between Evolution outtake “Night is for Getting” has been reworked to fit this record), The Grand Bounce finds a mature father and artist getting a fresh outlook on life and music that I don’t think would work with his “other” band. In fact, the one track that might - Downie addresses the stereotypes of the crowd that tends to follow his music (“Hard Canadian”) - is the one song that I don’t enjoy, but you realize that he’s long since tired of defending his music in terms of who listens to it. The Grand Bounce feels like a retreat, not in scope or sound, simply in being. A collection of songs that exude a comfortable confidence and let Downie sing with friends both new and old, unconcerned about where the songs end up in his legacy.


Since there are no legal MP3s, how about a fantastic track from the CBC Fuse session he did with The Sadies. Stooges covers = Thursday fun.

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MP3:: Gord Downie (ft. The Sadies) - Search and Destroy


This entry was posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 8:40 am and is filed under 2010, Canada, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Reviews:: Gord Downie The Grand Bounce”

dp June 10th, 2010 at 10:48 am

the howling on ‘the dance and its disappearance’ is also quite cool, let alone Clark and Morningstar getting into it

nice write-up … lest us never again hear ‘oh canada’ at a hip or country miracle show ever again

kittimittens June 11th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Thanks for such an interesting and well written review of the new CD. I enjoyed your insight and was particularly intrigued by one reference you made: Did you know at the time you were writing your review that the title “The Grand Bounce” was taken from a phrase in a novel that Downie read, and the phrase means “retreat?”


Herohill » Blog Archive » Contest:: Win 2tix to Gord Downie @ The Cohn October 5th, 2010 at 8:04 am

[...] time. Quite unexpectedly, I fell hard for his latest, Walla produced solo effort, The Grand Bounce (review), and I have to admit I’m pretty excited about seeing Downie & The Country Miracles [...]

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