REVIEW: The Kansas City Blog on World Container

The Kansas City Blog- The Wayward Blog

The Tragically Hip: New Album Reviewed While Listening

I recently asked my friend, the humorist and Pitch assistant calendar editor Chris Packham, to go to this site, stream the new Tragically Hip album (bottom of the page, limited availablity) and let me know what he thought of it. I’ve been a fan of the Hip — arguably Canada’s biggest rock band — since I was a wee bairn, and yet few people I know have even heard of them. Their new one, World Container, came out earlier this year. Compared to other Hip albums, this one’s a bit overproduced and anthemic, trading the band’s usual nuanced style for booming pomp — just listen to all the times Gord Downie goes “yeah” and “that’s right” to punctuate his verses (especially on “Fly”). Blame it on producer Bob Rock for getting ’em all worked up. But there are some damn great songs, as always. As a result, it’s one of the best workout tapes of the year. But anyway, here’s Chris’ hilarious take.

Here is my review of World Container, by Tragically Hip. I have never listened to a Tragically Hip album, and am therefore COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED to voice an opinion. I am totally typing and listening at the same time, so you’re getting my raw, unfiltered impressions. There are no swears, here, though.

1) Yer Not The Ocean

Pretty awesome song, with an excellent melody, nice breaks, some surprising background vocals as the song’s arc approaches a lush climactic finale. TEN POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR!

2) The Lonely End of the Rink

I like this song’s title better than the actual song itself. It’s as well-constructed and well-paced as that first track, but not as strongly melodic, which is the empirical basis upon which all songs should be judged. I call it the “Good Ship Lollipop” scale. This one scores, like, a four. Are all Tragically Hip songs as layered as these first two? They’re both pretty busy, with lots of instruments and sounds cutting in and out.

3) In View

“I love you! You know I do!” Oh, good. FINALLY, a song about ell-oh-vee-ee. “I’ve been meanin’ to call you, and I do. Phone rings once, phone rings twice, phone rings three times.” I am literally transcribing this song as it plays. It has turned me into a typist, this song. It’s definitely no “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,” by William Wordsworth, is it? That goes,

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

However, you cannot dance to “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” whereas, “In View” by the Tragically Hip makes me want to go to the mall and try on different outfits in a quick-cut montage.

4) Fly

Bit of an anthem, isn’t it? Sky imagery, soaring chorus, etcetera. At first, I thought they were going to take it down a notch, but once the song really kicks into gear, it totally does not take it down a notch.

5) Luv (Sic)

Very clever title. Did you know that as far back as the tenth century, “lovesickness” was not just a literary convention, but was apparently considered to be an actual malady which could kill you? Like heroin withdrawal! Then the humoral model of physiology collapsed and took lovesickness with it. I should point out that the humoral model was the concept that the human body was governed by the balance of four bodily “humors.” It wasn’t some kind of Patch Adams clown-nose crap. This song and I don’t have any chemistry. It seems like we should totally like each other; we have common interests, but we’re just not clicking phermonally.

6) The Kids Don’t Get It

Gordon Downie’s sincere and assertive vocals become a love it/hate it proposition in this song. It’s like a challenge! I’m totally being challenged to like this song, but I am sadly unable to meet its high standards. Why is this song judging me?

7) Pretend

NOW they’re taking it down a notch. This song’s rhythm seems to have been deployed for the express purpose of eighth grade slow-dancing, where the couple holds each other at arm’s length, and shuffles back and forth while avoiding eye contact. And the title evokes the eighth grade slow-dancing convention of “pretending” that you are somewhere, anywhere else and the sincere hope that you will never again feel that awkward. Moving into the second half of the song, it’s almost like a disco ball has descended over my desk and filled my cube with little spinning sparklies. I am very nostalgic.

Lastnight I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me

Should be called “Lastnight (sic) I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me.” Just saying. I’m glad the song doesn’t go into any further details about its dream, because lordy do I hate listening to people tell me about the dream they had last night. Want to hear some other pet peeves of mine?

-Stickers on fruit
-“Wacky” outbound voicemail messages
-People who quote “Seinfeld”

“You kissed my fingers and you made me love you,” is, surprisingly, the actual hook, here. In my opinion, these lyrics would be funnier if he were singing about a hobo, or something, but funny is clearly not what he’s going for, here.

9) The Drop-Off
Angry growling guitars, ascending melody and vocals on the chorus. Nice percussive punctuation under the lyrics. Which I am admittedly paying no attention to, whatsoever. I was texting somebody through half of this track. It’s a good song, though. I’m going to listen to it again.

10) “Family Band”

I like this title because it reminds me of a TV show from a more innocent time. It also evokes showbiz parents who smack their kids around when they forget the lyrics or miss a note. The rhythm section has now completely recovered from the mid-album slow-tempo song, and we’re moving along a predictable arc to a climactic finish. PLEASE NOTE: This song has a totally fake ending, where the last note fades, followed by silence, followed by the musical equivalent of the alien queen impaling Bishop the android on her tail and attacking the kid, followed by Ripley (Gordon Downie) clomping out in a robotic suit. Fasten your seatbelt! It’s a real rollercoaster.

11) “World Container”

The eponymous album-ending track. “There’s a world container with your name on it, and a billion ways to go berserk.” Down-tempo intro with soulful piano followed by down-tempo verses and chorus with soulful piano. Did I mention the melodic? It totally brings the melodic to the melody table. On the other hand, it does not make me feel like going to the mall and trying on different outfits, which is the greatest feeling in the world.

— Chris Packham
Category: CD Reviews

Review: Seattle PI on World Container / 2007-03-29

The Tragically Hip are on top of their game

Twenty years in and The Tragically Hip are playing like they’re just getting started. For the first 10 years, the Kingston, Ontario, five-piece played it cool as blues rockers. Gradually, the band edged toward country-rock before eventually settling into a straight-up rock persona that culminated in the seminal records “Day for Night” and “Fully Completely,” from ’94 and ’92, respectively.

For the next 10 years, the Hip steadily released albums driven as much by their guitar work as Gordon Downie’s maverick lyrics. Though he likes to focus on the Canadian experience, the singer’s stories run the gamut of possibility. In fact, his microscope seems to know no bounds, a feat matched only by his ability to subsume big, polysyllabic words into songs (pendulum, biosphere, vaccination), many of which have never seen a song before and probably never will again.

Yet, for Hip-heads, and particularly the lesser-known American variety, this was a frustrating time. Each of the five albums from this era suffered a professional malaise that belabored the Hip. It seemed that Canada’s Greatest Rock Band was going through the motions. The root of the problem was drummer Johnny Fay who, for nearly 10 years, would do little more than keep the beat; his lack of excitement and general laziness haunted the band, keeping their songs locked in 4/4 time.

Thank God for Bob Rock, the studio impresario best known for his work with Motley Crue (“Dr. Feelgood”) and Metallica (“Load,” “Reload” and “St. Anger”), not to mention David Lee Roth and Bon Jovi. Rock not only reawakened the Hip but he pushed them to new levels. The resulting “World Container” is the greatest Hip album ever recorded. The proof was seen in their concert Thursday night at the Moore, a spellbinding, energetic and triumphant display of prowess, expertise and most certainly, an absolute love of rock ‘n’ roll.

Quintessential entertainer and dynamic frontman Downie was soaked with perspiration by about the fifth song. By the 18th (an explosive rendition of the bluesy “Blow at High Dough”), he looked as if he had just stepped out of the shower. His aerobic interpretive dances have always made a Hip show into a spectacle, one to be seen as well as heard, but Thursday night Downie was on fire. Not even his microphone stands could handle his vivacity; he went through two and almost maimed a third.

Rarely do the Hip play songs by other bands; in fact, according to my sources, “Sweet Jane” has been the only exception, but add to the list “Jumping Jack Flash,” an apropos encore song, if not a summation of the new era for the Hip: “It’s a gas! Gas! Gas!”

Shawn Telford is a Seattle-based freelance writer who can be reached at

Marquee Magazine: Colorado’s Music Calendar

Marquee Magazine: Colorado’s Music Calendar

By Brian Kenney

So what’s so special about being Canadian? In essence, things seem to be a bit simpler with our northern neighbors. And that’s not being diminutive. Beer, hockey, small-town life, oh and the Tragically Hip. In a country that prides itself on a low-key, simple existence, the only thing that may exist on a monumental level is the Hip’s popularity.

Appearing on the scene in 1986, at the height of Bon Jovi hysteria, the Hip composed simple odes of humble, Canadian life inspired by the folk of Gordon Lightfoot, the slide guitar harmonies of the Eagles, the cerebral lyrics of REM, with an indie splash of the Replacements. The tight-knit Kingston, Ontario quintet had a simple sound and a simple formula: play music and earn enough to support your habit, and don’t have expectations outside of your means. “We’ve always approached our career by keeping our eyes on the not-too-distant horizon: one record at a time and one tour at a time,” bassist and founding member Gord Sinclair told The Marquee in an interview that traced the Hip’s foundations and earliest inclinations through their 11th and most recent studio release World Container.

The Tragically Hip, bassist Sinclair, drummer Johnny Fay, guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, and vocalist/lyricist Gordon Downie, have made a career of lyrically and sonically representing the simplified essence of folk life. Throughout 20-odd years of making music, they have amassed accolades worthy of the title of Canadian ambassadors of music; in addition to 14 Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammys), with World Container nominated for four more. They have a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2005 were presented with an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Conservatory of Music.

All the while, they have maintained a musical compass, kept a pulse on their fan base, and preserved themselves as a unit, and let’s face it, even the most steadfast of accomplished bands (Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam) have found that difficult. “We’ve grown up doing this. From wide-eyed university kids to family members with responsibilities. And while our outlook on the whole thing has changed, we’ve maintained this family sense, which is predicated on mutual respect,” Sinclair said. “Early in our career we had a ‘very Canadian’ meeting where we decided to share equally everything that happened to us: monetary credits, writing credits. So as to eliminate all the things that break up bands.”

For years, at least on American soil, they have been flying under the radar, finding fan-friendly pockets in upstate New York, Chicago, Ohio, and Colorado, as Canada’s answer to REM. Their allure as Canada’s best export since Wayne Gretzky is, in part, due to the theatrics of their expressive, eclectic, glassy-eyed lead singer Gordon Downie.

Downie is drop-dead captivating in his ability to literally improvise during live performances. He possesses a penchant for stage presence that puts him in the elitist of elite company of front men, strategically and subliminally weaving long-winded improvised narratives of stranded sailors, or tales of machine gun-toting rumrunners, or anecdotes of killer whale attacks. “Way back, when we were a bar band, we’d play B-side covers with great structure and riffs and Gordie would remember the first verse and the chorus and then he’d forget and make the rest up. It became fun that way,” Sinclair said of his enigmatic lead singer.

Some of those improvs became the foundation for World Container. Upon hearing that the Hip were nearing the studio again, a fellow Canadian appeared on their radar. Enter Bob Rock, renowned for producing industry heavy-hitters across genres (Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Cher). To say that Rock was courting the Hip is an understatement, for he admitted that when he met Downie he had “visions of the making the ‘Great Canadian Album.'”

Rock considered the relaxed vibe of the Hip a pleasure to work with. “Bob very quickly shared his passion for the project. He’s an infectious music guy. He’s like a walking musical encyclopedia,” Sinclair said.

The result, World Container, is an approachable and well-balanced disc, from the Snow Patrol-esque “In View” to the Beatles-inspired crybaby wah wah of Downie’s vocals in “Fly,”to the piano-driven “Pretend,” which could be Downie’s version of Carole King’s “Home Again.” “I am very proud of this record,” Rock recalled when World Container was in the can. “Now, did I make ‘The Great Canadian Album?’ Time will tell,” he answered himself. “I will always call it ‘my Great Canadian album.”

Review: on World Container – November 2, 2006
World Container

For their 11th album Canada’s national heroes team up with über-producer Bob Rock.

When Bob Rock produced Metallica’s self-titled black album, there were cries of sell-out from the fans. Now that he’s at the boards for World Container, could there be a similar backlash for The Tragically Hip?

One listen to the lead-off single “In View” reveals the most optimistic track the Hip have laid down since “Fireworks.” The album kicks off with the power-pop crunch of “Yer Not the Ocean,” and closes with the title track, a sentimental piano ballad. It sounds like Rock is intent on breaking the Hip in the States, despite years of flying under the American radar.

Don’t worry, World Container still feels like a Hip album – it’s steeped in Canadian geographic references, nods to hockey and an overwhelming tension – it’s just dressed up with a lot of studio finery. For the first time ever, drummer Johnny Fay plays rim shots, Bobby Baker’s guitar is drenched in echo and more than once the Hip tap into ska, flamenco and dance-rock variations for the break down.

Lyrically Gord Downie has branched out, too. Some of his poetry is downright syrupy on the page (“Love (Sic)” and “Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me” being the prime examples). Much of the record seems preoccupied with his relationship with his daughters, making for passionate delivery. Downie’s voice has the gravitas to make it work and when he experiments with self-harmonies, the payoff is astounding. Lest you think he’s gone soft, check out the stunning album standout “The Kids Don’t Get It,” complete with gut-wrenching wail and boundless irony.

World Container may not have the consistency or impact of 2004’s In Between Evolution, but by pushing themselves (with or without Rock’s influence) the Hip have made a record that shows remarkable growth, even for a band that has shed its bar band status. It doesn’t always work, but World Container is fearless, angry, tender and engrossing, not to mention a great rock record.


Review: Buffalo News on World Container

Buffalo News – Music Discs
3.5 out of 4
For the Tragically Hip, the live setting has always been the medium of choice. Though the band has delivered a half-dozen timeless studio efforts, rarely has the sense of daring, risk-taking and delicate inter-band chemistry the musicians deliver on stage been fully captured in the recording studio. “World Container” changes this paradigm significantly.
Pairing the Hip with uber-rock producer Bob Rock, renowned for his work with Metallica, struck one as odd, initially. The Hip’s Gordon Downie is a wonderfully emotive singer, and just as wonderfully strange, to the point that the Hip has come across as an astute alternative band. Rock is a hard-rock and metal producer, and he doesn’t seem a natural choice for the Hip.
“World Container” delivers one pleasant surprise after another, however, and the first one you’re gifted with is the taut precision of Rock’s production, which thickens the presence of the rhythm section, beefs up the guitars and creates a completely pleasing ground for Downie to stomp around on. This is, by Hip standards, a very accessible record, full of immediately compelling hooks – hear “The Lonely End of the Rink” and “The Kids Don’t Get It” once, and you’ve got two new friends for life – and tightly arranged structures. Downie is glorious within this framework. To hear him baring his soul during the title track, as the anthemic chord progression swirls around him and guest pianist Jamie Edwards lends to the grandeur, is to realize that the Hip is hitting a new peak 20 years into its career.
– Jeff Miers

Review: Eye Weekly on World Container

Eye Weekly – On Disc – October 19, 2006

On Disc


Three Stars out of Four
World Container (Universal)

Refine the tried-and-true or reinvent the wheel? That question has dogged every Hip album since 1998’s Phantom Power, the band often struggling to agree on a direction. World Container sees them take another few steps forward and a few back. Despite pairing them with producer Bob Rock, it’s not the set of radio-ready rockers one might’ve expected. Instead it’s split between fairly standard fare (the opener “Yer Not the Ocean,” the Road Apples throwback “The Drop-Off”), sudden blasts of exuberance (the single “In View,” the even better “Family Band”), orchestral-rock overkill (the title track) and a few stabs at hoser-fied reggae-punk (“The Lonely End of the Rink,” “The Kids Don’t Get It”). Included in the latter, the declaration “I’ll be the antlers and I’ll be the elk” belongs on any fan’s list of favourite Downie-isms. Though most old-timers will be happy that what isn’t broken doesn’t get fixed, World Container’s best moments suggest that the Hip are overdue for a more comprehensive overhaul. JASON ANDERSON


Review: NOW Magazine on World Container

NOW Magazine – Music in Toronto, OCTOBER 19 – 25, 2006

THE TRAGICALLY HIP World Container (Universal) Rating: NNNN

I think the most off-putting thing about the Hip is the farcical patriotic nonsense that’s attached to their music, as if you’re more Canadian if you identify with their casual references to Bobby Orr while driving to the cottage or something. Screw that. On their 11th release, the Hip distinguish themselves by their songwriting more than anything else, and they do so with a graceful ability to blend rockers like The Lonely End Of The Rink with arena ballads like Yer Not The Ocean, the title track, and Pretend – possibly the closest the band will ever get to classic soul. While the Hip may have a spotty track record and several so-so albums, World Container is one of their most accomplished and engaging to date.

The Hip rock the Phoenix Sunday (October 22) through October 26.

Evan Davies NOW | OCTOBER 19 – 25, 2006 | VOL. 26 NO. 7

Review: on World Container

Here’s what (The Toronto Star) has to say about World Container:

“Three Stars out of Four”

As a live act, the Tragically Hip remains as popular as ever in this country. The sold-out, four-night run at the Phoenix Concert Theatre that begins Sunday is more lark than necessity for a band still capable of packing the ACC for a night — or even two. In recent years, however, the iconic Kingston band’s recorded output has met with growing indifference. Whether World Container, the Hip’s 11th studio album in 13 years, can reverse the trend remains to be seen — although the bouncy, upbeat power pop of the debut single, “In View,” counts as a serious attempt. Aided by producer Bob Rock, who has fine-tuned discs by heavyweights Metallica and Mötley Crüe, World Container is a concerted effort to tweak, if not ditch, the familiar template. While sometimes still relying too heavily on vehemence as his principal vocal strategy, singer Gord Downie demonstrates a welcome dexterity, even making a bid for crooner on “Pretend” and the title track. Guest keyboardist Jamie Edwards lends leavening touches to both those tracks, as well as opener “We’re not the Ocean,” while “The Lonely End of the Rink” gets a dusting of classical guitar and “Fly” is embroidered with rootsy embellishments.
Vit Wagner

The Tragically Hip | internet radio on


The Tragically Hip | internet radio on
There is no doubt The Tragically Hip is one of the most revered Canadian rock bands of the last 20 years. With such longevity The Hip have never truly slowed down. Instead they have amassed a large collection of songs which have become staples in the Canadian music scene. With the release of the new album, World Container, they continue to build on their reputation as one of Canada’s premier groups. The Tragically Hip discuss the making of their new album in an exclusive album launch.


The Hip continue to evolve
By DARRYL STERDAN — Winnipeg Sun

Tragically Hip
World Container

When you’re a big-time rock band — even a big-time Canadian rock band — it must be tempting to stay safely ensconced in your own little self-important world. To make the same crowd-pleasing CD over and over again.

To play the hits for the same fans at the same sold-out arenas year after year. To do nothing to burst the bubble of your own fame and fortune.

So you’ve got to give Gord Downie and his Tragically Hip bandmates some credit for not being that band. They don’t necessarily reinvent their CanRock wheel every time they go into the studio.

But they do seem to try to move in a few new directions instead of just sticking to the same old worn pathways.

Their dozenth disc World Container is no exception. “There are places I’ve never been and always wanted to go,” yelps Downie on the aptly titled Fly. And so he does — in the musical sense, anyway.

The charming single In View may be the most obvious jumping-off point, with its bouncy beat and poppy keyboard hook offsetting Downie’s high-register warble and lovey-dovey lyrics. But the 11-song disc holds several other subtle departures from the 23-year-old quintet’s trademark sound.

The Lonely End of the Rink borrows some ringing reggae-rock guitars from The Police. The Kids Don’t Get It goes one step further, with a skanking guitar and nimble bassline that possess vaguely Clash-like overtones. It’s followed by Pretend, which cunningly recasts Kids’ lyrical dialogue — ” ‘If I ask you a question, are you gonna lie to me?’ / ‘Is that your question? ‘Cause that one is easy’ ” — into a pretty piano-ballad waltz. The title cut also brings out the keyboard, closing the album on an elegantly mellow mood.

But just because The Hip have moved forward doesn’t mean they’ve left old fans in the lurch. There are no shortage of moody guitar-driven rockers here, from the alternately jangly and chunky opener Yer Not the Ocean to the slow-burning blues-boogie The Drop-Off and the chugging Family Band (which has another lyrical bon mot: “One day I’ll make some honest rock ‘n’ roll, full of handclaps and gang vocals”). And for all its sonic detours, the disc still delivers plenty of crunching guitar interplay and taut, rock-solid grooves — topped, of course, with Downie’s poetic political allegories and nervous yelp.

Which is to say: It covers enough familiar turf to rock your world, along with enough changes of scenery to make for an interesting journey.

Track Listing:

1. Yer Not the Ocean
2. The Lonely End of the Rink
3. In View
4. Fly
5. Luv(sic)
6. The Kids Don’t Get It
7. Pretend
8. Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me
9. The Drop Off
10. Family Band
11. World Container