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Chemical City

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Album Review

With the resurgence of interest in classic rock (did it ever really fall from fashion?), many groups have imitated the sound of the '70s, but few have so completely emulated the sweep and grandeur of that decade's best rock albums as Sam Roberts' Chemical City. The very look of the packaging highlights the glory of that era with its striking artwork, details of which appear within the equally sumptuous booklet. Back in the day, a poster of the cover would have been included; perhaps the band will sell them at their shows instead, certainly the art is worthy of it. The music, too, harkens back to the sweep of styles and atmospheres that were de rigueur of "classic" albums. "The Gate" sets the standard with a quite magnificent slab of psychedelia flavored rock, a style that shifts into a swirlier alterna-mode for "Mind Flood" and "Mystified Heavy." "Bridge to Nowhere" crosses into grebo territory, although it has enough of an edge to recall New Model Army, while "With a Bullet" adds a Celtic tinge to the style. "The Bootleg Saint," "The Resistance," and "An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay" are at the other end of the spectrum, the first two marbled by the Rolling Stones, the latter splattered with early Small Faces. And no "classic" album would be complete without a ballad, and Chemical City sports two, the lovely, acoustic "Uprising Down Under," along with the emotive keyboards, and the vocals-only "Stone Would Cry Out." All told, the set is a sumptuous helping of songs with strong melodies and anthemic choruses vying with more subtle, shaded pieces, all filled with meaty lyrics that are easily the equal of the music.


Born: 02 October 1974 in Westmount, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Canadian singer/songwriter Sam Roberts released his first true debut in 2002, following a popular demo he had made in Montreal. Before that point, he had been a violin player who eventually moved on to guitar and started a rock band with his friends. After getting a bit of coverage on MuchMusic, they decided to try their luck in Los Angeles. The band didn't get any positive reactions from record labels and disbanded in 1998, but that didn't stop Roberts from going back to Canada and beginning to...
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Chemical City, Sam Roberts
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