The Do Good Assassins – Rome


The “debut” disc from Toronto’s Do Good Assassins is sure to be of interest to fans of Ron Hawkins and 90s Canadian indie-rock. As part of Lowest of the Low, Hawkins set the stage for bands like the Weakerthans to really take off in the 21st century, crafting literate rock n’ roll with a penchant for social justice and boozy portraits of young artists out on the town. Since the early 90s, Hawkins has continued pumping out tunes, either solo, with his band the Rusty Nails, or, occasionally, with the reconstituted Lows. Rome is an ambitious 20 track double disc, divided along the lines of “rock” and “country.” The two discs are not really so far apart in style, though the “rock” disc certainly leans more towards the Rusty Nails territory, while the “country” disc is more of a direct continuation of Hawkin’s 2011 solo disc Straightjacket Love. Hawkins songs are strong throughout, with “Sadder Days” and “The Last Casanova in Town” demonstrating his clever wordplay best on the “rock” disc. On the “country” side, “Capistrano,” “Little Volcano” and “Rome” prove the strongest of the solid set. Producer and guitar slinger Steve Singh takes the vocals on two tracks, one off each side, which provides a nice change of pace and scenery in much the same way that Stephen Stanley’s contributions did on the Low discs. Perhaps not the best introduction to an underrated Canadian songwriter, Rome is certainly an album that displays the breadth and depth of an artist with 20 years of slugging it out in the underground. Essential listening for even the passing Hawkins fan. (Independent, Sheldon Birnie

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