Music Review: Rain Over St. Ambrose - Truth For News

Hey, it's a rock band! With guitars and organ and big sounds and choruses and solos and stuff. The Yarmouth gang has been growing in popularity in N.S. since it's debut E.P. last year, and has already grabbed accolades and nominations, including Best New Band from The Coast's readers poll. Now comes the first full length release, and it comes through in spades, continuing the run of explosive sounds contained in smart rock songs.

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Don't be fooled by the instrument line-up though. There's nothing retro here, no 70's or 80's fixation. If there's a sub-genre, it's closer to the story-telling epics favoured by The Gaslight Anthem or The Hold Steady, minus the Springsteen obsession. But this is forward-thinking rock, with edge and brains and interesting tales in there as well. Plus, they've discovered the magic of repetition, with plenty of sing-along (or yell-along) lines for the crowd to join in on: At Night With Friends closes with the band in three-part harmony going "You took a lot out of me" several times, before the pay-off, "and I really want it back."

Everything is played with gusto and at volume, and there's no point where the album slips into ballad territory. The closest they get to that would be "intense". Drums are thrashed, cymbals crashed, lyrics growled, guitars distorted and full. But somehow it all stays very rich, as the melodies are quite tuneful, and the organ and other keyboards rise above the din to provide that sugar on top. There's certainly an edge to everything as well, helped along by some biting lyrics. Your Audience (in other words, not theirs) is a swipe at hipsters in the crowd: "With your cool shoes, glasses and hair." It must be a ball to sing "You people are so goddamn cool" every night, to see the reaction. Anyway, that's my next goal, I must see them live, this will be great stuff for a club show.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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