Author: Sarca

I write, I game, I knit, I watch, I mainline coffee.

[Review] Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Garden (PC)

It’s been months (…and months!) since I played any games. Life, including work, the pandemic, family emergencies, and my own “fine time” with a serious and debilitating chronic medical condition, gaming took a massive back seat. But, things happen in a cycle: just when I thought I was out, Steam’s Winter Sale pulls me back in, clearing the cobwebs and picking up the mothballs.

It was the install of Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Garden that was a saving grace. It is the story of Kinnat, a girl whose mother has been missing for years. A visit to a book shop connects her with a mysterious book called “the Chronicle,” its pages happen to be a link from the real world to a fantastical one where her mother is being kept. Kinnat comes to find out Mom was a covert chronicle keeper who is stuck in this netherworld – so stuck she has become a stone statue! With a broken medallion that allows Kinnat a portal into the netherworld, and the help of a weird leprechaun, she enters this strange place to solve the mystery of what happened to her Mom. The story pulls from Irish folklore here as the story makes references to fairies, banshees and of course, your faithful companion, the leprechaun. I am very naive to the references…even with my own Scottish lineage, I was not exposed / took an interest in Celtic mythology, although this game has piqued an interest…

Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Garden looked great from the get-go and it’s a relatively easy going game. I found the puzzles fun and engaging, but it might have been because I have not played a HOG in months…I really enjoyed the interesting dynamic of Kinnat’s Mom’s broken medallion that you can use as a monocle to view the netherworld and collect items not seen with the naked eye. The sense I got early on is that this game did not want you to fail, and I even remember saying that exact thing to the Hubs…if you are going down the wrong path, or using a tool inappropriately, the game will gently say, “nice try, but that’s not quite right.” The tools given also make sense in their use: yes, you can use that lighter to light that fire.

As much as I enjoyed this game, the one off-putting element was the creepy leprechaun. Umm, I know leprechauns generally are not the nicest-looking, but geez…

And really, if we are talking about attracting gamers to a HOG, what is up on Steam for this game doesn’t do Chronicle Keepers justice. The graphics look super cheesy and dated, and the reviews are mixed??

Please, don’t let that be your deciding factor to pass on it…I took a chance on Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Garden because it was at a deep discount, and I’m glad I did. It definitely is a keeper!

Chronicle Keepers: The Dreaming Garden

[Review] Papo & Yo (PC)

When I hear a game is a “platformer,” I have to mentally prepare to play it. I have played my share of platformers in my time, and have found some of them to be frustrating. So when the hubs suggested I play Papo & Yo for my next game, I installed it….and left it there on my PC for over a year. He recently encouraged me again to play it, and finding I no longer had any excuse, I went for it. Glad I did! Papo & Yo not only is fun to play, it has a good story attached.

The game begins in Brazil in a slum, with a young boy named Quico. Quico enters a fantasy world where he befriends and cares for Monster, a gorilla-like figure with a big rhinoceros horn. Monster has a problem: he is addicted to frogs. If he eats a frog, he fills with rage and often takes it out on Quico. The boy receives sage advice in this fantasy from Alejandra, a young girl who encourages Quico to lure Monster to a Shaman to get him cured. Along with a little robot named Lula, Quico is able to manipulate the world around him to try to get Monster the help he needs. Switches and gears are pushed and pulled so that Quico can turn buildings into platforms and bridges to get from one place to the next so that he can reach the Shaman temple before it’s too late…

If you read between the lines, there is a metaphor at play in this game involving Quico and Monster that reveals itself early on…and it’s a sad one, but it motivates you to help Quico reach the goal. I won’t reveal anything further…

Papo & Yo was originally released on the PS3 and later released on Steam. I played on PC using a controller and found that to be a comfortable experience. The graphics were great and the music was gorgeous. There was no map or inventory, but these were not needed as the game followed a linear thread, and there really was no chance for screw-ups. I did find a couple of graphical glitches in the game: in one instance, I jumped down from a platform and was stuck in mid-air. I forgive the game for this because if anyone finds a glitch it would be me!

As for the puzzles and platforming, both were pretty intuitive. The game is quite forgiving too, so if I fell off a platform, I would respawn without penalty. Papo & Yo‘s puzzles did make you think, but there was no timer, and if you gave your brain a chance to think through a puzzle, you didn’t have to reach for that walkthrough!

Overall, Papo & Yo was a fun puzzle platformer, with a fantastic story. It’s a 5/5!

Papo & Yo
Minority Media

[Music] Man Machine Poem – The Tragically Hip (2016)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

I bought the CD of Man Machine Poem basically on Day 1 of its release in June 2016. The Tragically Hip announced Gord Downie had a terminal brain tumor the December before, and with an announcement of a final tour that summer, I was down with buying this album. Kevin and I listened to it, and I felt it was a complete deviation from their past albums…or so I thought… Since that time, I know different, thanks in big part to doing this blog series on the Hip’s work.

Produced by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, and the Stills’ Dave Hamelin, Man Machine Poem is moody and devoid of bar-room rock. This style is not completely off-base for the Hip. We’ve seen them release something dark and different before (think Day For Night, In Violet Light, In Between Evolution), even experimental (Tiger the Lion from Music @ Work).

I enjoyed what I heard of Man Machine Poem back in the day, but it didn’t get the proper attention from me it commands, and I think I know why: the album is moody, and I have to be strongly centred to listen to it. Spinning the album five years later, knowing what I know today about what happened to Gord Downie, I can’t help but feel deeply emotional when listening to it. The best example is the first track, Man, with its electronic voice stating:

I'm a man and I'm a man. I do what I hate and don't understand

…for some reason this song gets me in the feels every damn time! And each subsequent track is just as heavy. I hear something eretheal in Downie’s lyrics, a deep emotion in his singing in every song, and even a personal catharsis. Rob Baker’s guitar and Johnny Fay’s crash symbol round out the tone of the record.

These songs were all written and recorded before Downie was diagnosed with cancer. Still, I feel sad and sentimental, knowing this would be the last latter day studio album of original songs with Gord at the helm we would ever get from the Tragically Hip, ever. Thank goodness, at least the remaining members are putting previously unreleased material out there for fans to enjoy.

I do feel Man Machine Poem is an important and significant edition to the Tragically Hip’s catalogue, and in the right setting, it strikes the right mood nicely. It’s a 4/5 for me.

Man Machine Poem
The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading! Please check out Kevin’s take!

[Review] Facility 47 (PC)

Something about the puzzle game, Facility 47, intrigued me immediately. Not only was the price right ($0.98), but the visuals pulled me in right away. I’ll also admit, a recent rewatch of the classic film, The Thing got me interested as you play a scientist stationed at an outpost in Antarctica who wakes up in a daze, locked in a cage…

It isn’t that you aren’t supposed to be at Facility 47, it’s that something has happened to you and your crew. How did you wind up locked in a cell? You find the keys on the ground close by, and you then embark on solving this mystery. The scientists at Facility 47 were conducting experiments as well as developing a special serum on the down-low that when injected would boost one’s immune system exponentially. It did have its serious side-effects, however…and as you go through the facility, you discover your crew is either dead or missing. Diary notes from colleagues and internal memos are found strewn about the place, and reveal some of what was happening at the facility before things turned tragic.

Facility 47 is a point-and-click puzzle game that does have some good things going for it. It looks great, for one thing; some great top notch graphics. The music, although on a loop, is eerie, but tolerable. The mystery aspect also sucks you in.

However, this game suffers from poor mechanics. You pixel hunt your way through as there are no visual signals to indicate any area of interest. The game is not very linear; at one point I found myself in a quandary where I had six locked doors I needed keys for in order to advance the game, and all I had was a useless butter knife. The puzzles were tricky to solve – some of them fun, others revealed answers that often made no sense to me. I embarrassingly had to resort to the hint button or a walkthrough throughout the game. Never mind, with there being a lot of locales to access in this game, and with all the backtracking you need to do (go here, go there…), this game did not provide any map, dammit! Facility 47 does not suffer fools!

I was close to 5 hours in, and at that stage, I was keeping a walkthrough on my phone on constant standby. Facility 47 just got to be a slog. I know this is not a popular view if one were to look at all the positive reviews for this game on Steam. Too bad, I feel the game had some potential, it just wasn’t executed well.


Facility 47
Inertia Game Studios

[Music] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition (…Mostly) – The Tragically Hip (2014)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

Now, before you say, “Hey Sarca, I’ve heard from you about Fully Completely already. Do we really need a rehash?” No, no we don’t. I gave this album in its original release 5/5 (Read more here!). What I’m reviewing today is the 2 CD Fully Completely Deluxe Edition – mostly, lol. I’ve already covered the album proper elsewhere. I’ll be touching on the rest of the Deluxe Edition, m’kay?

In November 2014, the Tragically Hip released two versions of their reissued Fully Completely album: there is a 2 CD Deluxe Edition set, and a bigger Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set. Full disclosure, I had the Limited Edition Box Set, but it’s now with Aaron at the KMA HQ; Aaron and I did a swap, and I now have his Deluxe Edition in my collection. I have my reasons why…If you want to read my review of the Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set, please read my take here!

As for the Deluxe Edition of Fully Completely, it is a two-CD collection that includes Fully Completely, remastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig. Additionally, two unreleased songs were added to the album line-up. Radio Show is a great rockin’ bar-room tune. The song sounds like old school Hip! Toe-tapping is very necessary here. The second song, Hard Done By is very familiar lyrically, as it’s actually the tune found on Day For Night, only sped up with a rock spin. The version we are all used to is so brooding in its own right, setting off a different vibe. This new version is an interesting take and more upbeat. I like it.

The second CD included in the Deluxe set is worth its weight. It’s the Tragically Hip performing every track from Fully Completely (plus a performance of Twist My Arm), September 13, 1992, at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, a few weeks ahead of the release of the album. In three words: it is AWESOME. I’ve listened to this at least half a dozen times in the last two days, and it never gets old. The band was well-prepared that evening – tight – and the mix is tops. Gord Downie is hilarious, playing up the affected straight man. Each song gets a Gord introduction, and they are at times really funny. I LOL’d at him when he introduced Courage (For Hugh MacLennon) by saying like it was a slogan in a commercial for life insurance, “Courage. It couldn’t come at a worst time.”

The packaging to the Deluxe Edition is a standard gatefold 2-CD set. Tucked away in one of the sleeves is the original folded page from the original CD that displays liner notes and credits on one side, and the album cover artwork from Lieve Prins on the other side. A totally serviceable collection that fits well with the other Hip CDs in your collection.

I 100% recommend including the Deluxe Edition of Fully Completely. Not only do you get to hear a great album, but hearing the Hip in top form performing their songs live BEFORE they were actually released, is quite novel. It’s a 5/5 for the set.

Fully Completely 2-CD Deluxe Edition
The Tragically Hip

Please check out my review of the Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set here!

And lastly, please check out Kevin’s take!

[Blu-Ray] Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip (2012)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

When I first learned that there was another Tragically Hip concert film, titled Bobcaygeon, I got excited. The last Hip concert film we watched, That Night in Toronto, was pretty good, so I was ready to settle in and see Gord and the Boys at it again. This film was to be significant, chronicling the major concert that took place June 25, 2011, in the small town of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, the subject of one of the Hip’s best known songs of the same name. This concert was a big deal: 25000 fans, converging on a town of 2500 basically in the middle of nowhere.

Bobcaygeon, however, is not simply a concert film; it gives an inside look into the planning and execution of a huge undertaking. The concert already two years into its planning at this point, the film begins just days ahead of the event where we are first introduced to the key organizers of the event as they arrange and assemble the stage in the middle of an empty field. We sit in on a town meeting where public safety, parking and affected local business is discussed. We meet the local townsfolk who are excited for the concert, meanwhile an unhappy bride who booked her wedding on the same day and time as the concert can’t get lodging for her guests. We follow a handful of Hip fans and ticketholders from all walks of life as they share what the Hip and this concert means to them.

Lastly, we are given a backstage peek into the Tragically Hip as they prepare to perform in concert. I wrote in my notes, “FINALLY!” as in finally, we get to see this intensely private band interact outside of performing! But as I watched, hoping to learn new personal details, in the end I didn’t really get anything profound, except that Johnny Fay wore braces and liked to use alcohol wipes instead of pit stick. I guess that’s…something private…

Mostly, I was surprised to see Bobcaygeon didn’t show the Hip’s complete concert here – only four songs are actually shown performed in full, and only eight songs in total:

  • Grace, Too
  • We Want to Be It
  • Ahead By a Century
  • It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken (Full)
  • Courage (For Hugh MacLennon)
  • At the Hundredth Meridian (full)
  • Bobcaygeon (full)
  • Fifty Mission Cap (full)

But, the fact that director Andy Keen chose to concentrate less on the Hip’s proper concert performance and more on everything else is a little disappointing. This was a big Hip event! As important as it was to show the set-up of the concert, some of the doc’s focus was not very interesting: a tattooed family of four and their concern for booze after the concert? Pass. As for the rest of the fan stories, hey, I’m already a fan, you don’t need to convince me to like the Hip. Now, let’s see ’em perform!

In any case, I can say though that the look and sound of this film on blu-ray is pretty damn good. The sound mixing was especially impressive, drawing out elements I wasn’t expecting, like Gord Sinclair’s baselines, for example.

The Bobcaygeon blu-ray itself is barebones – containing only the film, no extras. What would have been fab is including the entire concert on a second disc. We all know the whole show was documented…I’m led to believe that Bobcaygeon is a film solely meant for fans – die-hard ones at that, who already know the story and want a bit of behind-the-scenes, and maybe some fan tales. Those who are new to the Hip, however, would likely not get the concert experience they should be getting; for them, I’d recommend That Night in Toronto. Overall, though, as a fan, I enjoyed Bobcaygeon for what it was: a doc that set up the planning and execution of what was a great event in a small town. I just wish they showed a little more of the actual concert. It’s a 3/5 for me.

Bobcaygeon (Film)
The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading! Please check out Kevin’s take!

[Music] Now For Plan A – The Tragically Hip (2012)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

I bought the Tragically Hip’s 12th album, Now For Plan A, when the HMV stores went tits up in Canada in Spring 2017, and I got it for a song. It embarrasingly remained in shrinkwrap in a basket by my couch for months until we pulled our “resting” music collection out of storage that Fall. I still hadn’t listened to it until this week.

Now for Plan A is once again a departure from the previous “departure” albums, World Container and We Are the Same. The Bob Rock polish from latter releases has been scuffed up again thanks to Canadian producer, Gavin Brown who ensured the Hip’s capable grit and urgency was once again given a spotlight. There is loud on this one and very little calm. Even with the subdued songs, Rob Baker doesn’t turn the guitar down, Johnny Fay constantly hits the crash cymbal, and Gord Downie’s lower register returns. If you prefer your Hip with a constant rock edge, this might be your record.

At Transformation starts the album off with a delicious strum of a guitar and develops into the urgency found in Vaccination Scar from In Between Evolution. Man, that guitar tone…delicious! Not surprised this was released as a single (although I wasn’t listening to radio at this point).

Man Machine Poem follows, and perhaps is a preview of what is to become of the Hip album of the same name (the next album to review). A lyrically simple song that starts subdued and crashes into a sweeping crescendo. The guitar play is quite pleasant, but Gord Downie strains himself through it. Never mind man machine – echo machine is all over this one to the point that I feel like the voice is being sung into a tunnel.

The Lookahead is a short, catchy rock track that is pretty ready for radio. Sarah Harmer helps out with backing vocals. Some great lyrics in the chorus here:

You weigh a snowflake
Cause great trees to fall
On perfect arms
Like Jeff Beck
To give me the lookahead

Things slow down a tad with We Want to Be It, a sentimental and likeable Hip tune, whose vibe is hyped up by the next tune, the urgent Streets Ahead. Some great guitar work here, but a little too much pro tools effects on Gord’s voice.

Now For Plan A follows; it’s a quiet and serene tune – about the only one on Now For Plan A so far. It’s lovely and atmospheric. Sarah Harmer’s gentle voice once again tends to the backing vocals.

The Modern Spirit starts up with a drumbeat similar to In View, and then breaks into a rock song, which, if we are to take the instrumental of the tune, wins. But, this one is probably my least favourite song here. Why does Gord sound like he is in pain?

About This Map is next, and I really love the vibe of this song. A great bass line, great fingering on that guitar, harmonies are strong…and even though the lyrics aren’t much other than “about this map,” and “want to want to,” the tune itself is pretty.

Take Forever is a typical Hip bar room rock tune with all the trappings. Good guitar riffs. That bass! Gord Sinclair kicks it out of the park on this one. This one could easily live on radio, although it was not released as a single.

Done and Done follows, and we’re met with another quiet, but emotional, song. Gord Downie’s voice is right in the range where it should be – beautiful. I really like this one.

Goodnight Attawapiskat is the political and power song of the album…located in Northern Ontario, Attawapiskat First Nation is known as the place where De Beers leased land from the tribe to build a diamond mine. The lyrics bite, when you imagine the predatory nature of the situation:

And though there's no sign of a songbird up here yet
No one to take advantage of
We know that life is short nobody can afford it
To sing a song that they don't love
I've come too far to feel like this
You've come too far to feel like that

Now For Plan A is the Tragically Hip’s shortest album at 39 minutes. Overall, a pretty good album, a few small issues I have with the production, like the overuse of echo, and poor Gord sounds in pain in some of the tracks, but overall a decent rock album. It’s a 3/5 for me.

Now For Plan A
The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading! Now check out Kevin’s take!

[Review] The Search (PC)

Often when playing games, a song, a character, a plotline leads me to really engage with a game. Some get their hooks into me and really make me think about myself and my place in the world. The puzzle game the Search did this for me in a personal way to such an extent that I played the game two years ago, and its message has hung on this long.

In the Search, you are an artist whose palette is dried up…whose canvas a bare. Your inspiration is non-existent. You begin the game’s journey staring out into a blank void…only illuminated by a series of lampposts, podiums under them. Each podium provides a message, a clue or an object from an entity who calls itself “the Invisible”. You are then given a ticket to put into a slot which then transports you to a vibrant world by which you explore. You are often hindered by a series of blocked paths and gates; access is gained by finding blank canvas to stretch across frames, which you must paint using found object in you inventory.

The Invisible is your constant companion by providing “food for thought” notes. Your inner voice – separate from the Invisible – speaks in philosophic terms, trying to decipher these notes. “Where am I and what am I doing here?” You often see yourself as a metaphor, for example, comparing yourself to a caged bird by quoting Carl Jung: “What use now is his lofty perch and his wide horizon, when his dear soul is languishing in prison?” to which you identify, as you express feeling trapped.

The Search is brought to you by Jason Godbey, the creator of Discolored, a game I got to demo in development back in 2019 (and is now a full game!). Godbey has a great aesthetic. Graphically, the game is beautiful. Navigating the terrain can be a bit of a turnaround as it is a point and click game, and relies on players to click on arrows to move through the scenes; I don’t think that is necessarily a problem in general…it is for me, however, since I can lose my place easily, lol. I was pleased to see I could save my progress in the game and could have more than one save profile. It even kept my old saves from when I last played the game in July 2019. The voice acting is stellar, done by video game voice over actress Cissy Jones, known to me best as Delilah from Firewatch. Lastly, if you’re into achievements, this one’s got ’em too via Steam.

The Search is a nicely rendered puzzle game that is not overly challenging in gameplay, but I found very thought-provoking in its message. Having stood in front of many a bare canvas in my life, I instantly identified with the main character’s feelings of emptiness. Some may find the philosophical talk a tad too heady or even preachy, but obviously I was open to it.


The Search
Jason Godbey

[Music] We Are the Same – The Tragically Hip (2009)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

What can be said about the Tragically Hip’s 11th album, We Are the Same, except I was a complete stranger to it before this week. In 2009 when this album was released, I was hardly listening to my music collection. We are very close to the time when Kevin and I packed away our CDs in a large rubbermaid container to make room for our growing video game collection. Now, before every music fan here hyperventilates…worry not, the music collection is now prominently displayed in our home now – where it should be! But, I was only listening to satellite radio and not taking in any new music. The Hip, sadly, was wayyy off my radar. Any mention of them was in passing, and my thinking was, “yeah, I’ll get to them when I have a sec…” But, as any adult knows, time is an avenger…

If I had been paying any attention, and had just bought We Are the Same on a whim when it was first released, I think it would have become my next obsessive listen. It is a high calibre production similar to the Hip’s previous album, World Container. Bob Rock produced this one, and like the last album, there are no rough edges. The songs are enjoyable, and set a perfect vibe that you don’t mind reliving. Gord Downie is at his best here: his voice is so clear and the harmonies are incredibly good.

We Are the Same plays with different rock formats, and attempts to strike a balance between them. We have the Hip rock we’re familiar with (The Exact Feeling), gentle rock tunes (Honey, Please, The Last Recluse, Coffee Girl, The Depression Suite), hard rock bruisers (Frozen In Your Tracks, Love Is a First), and the soundalikes (Speed River; starting out like the Summer of 69; the talky bits in Love Is a First harkens back to In Pursuit of Happiness’s I’m An Adult Now). The above said, there isn’t anything overtly different about We Are the Same that hasn’t been done by the Hip before aside from the number of epic ballads (Now the Struggle Has a Name, Queen of the Furrows, and Country Day). Hey, ballads can be pretty excellent, and for the most part, they’re good here…but, some take it to extremes: when you start with an acoustic guitar-led tune and end with violins, horns and banjos like we see in Country Day, it can sound less like the Hip and more like Sargeant Pepper’s.

Bar none – the best tune of We Are the Same is the first track, Morning Moon. It starts this album off with an acoustic twang of a guitar, and develops into this great tune that could easily be inducted into the pantheon of great rock tracks.There are some of the most beautiful harmonies I have ever heard from the Hip, ever here. This. This is a pretty damn perfect song.

Overall, I like this album a lot; a nice balance of songs, great singing and catchy tunes. I’m just sorry I waited this long to engage with it! It’s a 4.5/5 for me.

We Are the Same
The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading! Now go check out Kevin’s take!

[Music] World Container – The Tragically Hip (2006)

Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!

Need to catch up? Previously:

We are up to the Tragically Hip’s 10th studio album! I mentioned in a past post that once I reached In Between Evolution, that all subsequent Hip albums were strangers to me. That’s actually not fully true…Listening to World Container this week, I found I was more familiar with this album than I thought. I have discovered one thing though: my connection with this album is from a false memory. Here I thought I had a *cough* preservation copy that I obtained in 2005 when I was still living in Barrie, Ontario. Obviously, that turned out not to be true since this album was released in 2006…I’m off by a year. Yes, it was a preservation copy, but obtained later on when I had already moved down Toronto way. Thanks to the “new technology” that was the ability of burning content to CDs, I was able to have a copy of World Container in the car with me as I made the hour trek up Hwy 400 to the hospital in Barrie where I worked. That’s a lotta listening time in the car! I’ll reset my memory bank eventually…The good news is that World Container is a winner album. I know…I’m sounding like Aaron from the KMA with most of these album reviews, but, truthfully, I cannot give this one a negative.

Bob Rock produced World Container, and there is something reigned-in, focused and clean about it. We hear less bar-room rock and less experimental sounds this round; more radio-friendly power balads paired with mature piano-driven tunes. The album is a respectable 42 minutes long, and only 11 tracks – actually shorter than the average 14 track-album we’ve seen the Hip put out, which makes this quite a digestable record.

The first three songs on World Container were released as singles. Yer Not the Ocean starts the album with a nice rock intro turned acoustic, whiplashing the listener back into the rock; a nice start to the album. The Lonely End of the Rink follows, with a pronounced U2 guitar and drums permeate the track; I think that might be why I really like it. In View is a rather poppy tune that mixes a giddy xylophone with the Hip’s delicious guitar arrangement. It’s almost too perfect for the Hip to be involved with it…I challenge anyone not to tap their toe to this catchy track; it’s perfect.

Fly, the fourth song, hones in on the Hip’s easy road trip rock style; a perfect juxtaposition of guitar sound and Downie’s singing. I’m actually wondering why this one wasn’t made into a single? This is probably my favourite song on World Container.

Luv (sic) asks “Am I lovesick?” And that’s when we get the double entendre of the title. Some great reverb can be heard to partner with the desperation of Gord Downie’s question. It also has a great trailing guitar at its end that hints Neil Young.

Tracks The Kids Don’t Get It and Pretend play off each other lyrically, but from opposing aesthetics: both asking the initial query: “if I ask you a question”…The former acts as moody teenager in its hard rock styling and theme of truths, playing off Pretend‘s more mature and restrained piano-driven arrangement, and its own opposing theme of “make-believe.”

Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me is a more upbeat and catchy rock tune despite its title and sad subject matter.

The Drop Off has a familiar sound from the Hip’s earlier days that is as close to the old bar rock as this album gets (think Up to Here), only Gord Downie sounds more angsty and strained here. I can see why: the song tells the tale of summertime, teen relationships, and a lesson that can come from living life: “ya don’t go swimming past the drop off, or else…” There’s also an f-bomb and a Kiss Alive t-shirt in there for good measure…

Family Band is the fourth single from World Container, and is very ready for the radio in its style, but it wouldn’t be the Hip without adding some great lyrics for good measure. I can’t help but sing “small groups of people SMOKINNNNN'” loudly to this track, and then laugh.

The title track, World Container, rounds out the album, with a piano-led ballad, that starts light and ends heavy. Some great lyrics here too that reminds us to live life, and not to be held back by our mistakes.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I like World Container‘s album cover design; a real salve from In Between Evolution‘s terrible cover. So, great tracks, great cover design…What can I say? Overall, World Container is a great album. It’s an easy 5/5 from me!

World Container
The Tragically Hip

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