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Albums Of The Week: Eamon McGrath | Death & Taxes / Fireworks & Roses / Ghosts Of The 401 / In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death / Liar’s Paradise / March 22, 2022 / Trout River Conspiracy

The fiercely independent Canadian singer-songwriter delivers seven — yes, seven — new LPs on the same day. Why? Well, because he can. And because they're all great.

Any dullard can put out one album at a time. Hell, even two on the same day is no big whoop these days. But seven? Nobody in their right mind would even think about releasing seven albums on the same damn day and expect to get away with it.

Well, nobody except for Eamon McGrath, that is. And why would he do it? Well, mostly because he wants to, I suspect. And because he can — the prolific singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and self-producer writes and records so much music so fast that he makes Guided By VoicesRobert Pollard seem like a layabout with writer’s block. But also, I’d bet hard cash that the fiercely independent artist also did it in large part because it violates pretty much every unwritten rule, precedent and practice in the music-industry marketing handbook. I’m sure everyone he asked (if he even asked anybody) advised him not to do it. Why compete against yourself, they probably said. Who’s going to listen to all that music? Why not put them out over the course of several weeks or months? Or take the best 15 songs from the whole batch and put out a single album? All of which only made him all the more determined to do what he just did. If you haven’t already figured it out, McGrath is not a guy who holds back, goes halfway, leaves anything on the table or keeps anything in reserve. He goes all in, all or nothing, all the time.

Photo by Robert Georgeoff.

That’s one reason to love the dude. But here’s a better one: He didn’t just make seven albums. He made seven totally different albums. You’ve got studio recordings and live ones. Electric songs and acoustic fare. Rock and roots. Psychedelia and electronica. Stories and soundscapes. Canadiana, country and cacophony. Folk and freaking free jazz, FFS. And all of it is superb, thanks to the essential qualities that unite and define all of McGrath’s work: The compelling immediacy of his songcraft, the intrepid ingenuity of his production, the openhearted poetry of his lyrics and the rugged beauty of his vocals.

That’s why I’ve been saying for years that he’s the best damn singer-songwriter that most Canadians still haven’t heard. Well, now you can hear plenty. And you should. Check out all seven new releases below and tell me I’m wrong about them and him. Then go do yourself and him a favour and buy them from his Bandcamp page. While you’re there, get his last few albums too. You won’t be sorry. And now you won’t be behind the curve if he decides to drop 10 albums at a time down the road. Actually, if I know McGrath, make that when he decides. And if you have any thoughts on that, save your breath.


Death & Taxes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Circling horns and synths dominate this wild and untamed sonic exploration, brought to life by a deep obsession with Sun Ra, Hawkwind, Richard Buckner and Getatchew Mekurya’s work with The Ex. Death & Taxes is not for the faint of heart: a wall of sound, pummelling racket, a gorgeous cacophony; tender songs shivering beneath a coat of dark psychedelia.”


Fireworks & Roses

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The sound of psychedelia, alt-country and Americana — in the vein of Lee Hazlewood, Gram Parsons and Scud Mountain Boys — permeates through tales of longing, nostalgia and heartbreaking drug ballads on the most recently written and recorded group of songs in this collection. Fireworks & Roses reads like a book of faded photographs taken on long-expired Kodak film, preserved in glossy memory but soon to be distant and forgotten.”


Ghosts Of The 401

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Written after and inspired by the tragic and untimely death of drummer Adam Balsam, this album weaves songs out of stories cultivated along the white and yellow lines of Ontario’s longest and wildest automotive artery as it winds and curves beneath a cold Great Lakes sky. Ghosts Of The 401 takes its sonic cues from equal parts folk and country and ambient electronic music, where heavily processed industrial and mechanical samples find a natural home alongside Martin guitars and mandolins — just like Adam would have loved. For fans of both Einstürzende Neubauten and John Fahey, Hiroshi Yoshimura and Blue Rodeo.”


In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The marriage between acoustic and electric continues on In The Valley of The Shadow of Death, but in perhaps the most extreme ways of this group of new music. Equal parts Wolf Eyes and Townes Van Zandt; Harold Budd and Jackson C. Frank. Recorded in the dead middle of an apocalyptic winter, In The Valley of The Shadow Of Death creates a sonic landscape with warbling tape machines, old dusty compressors, and shelved effects pedals, transforming them all into a priceless Stradivarius or glimmering Martin.”


Liar’s Paradise

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Finding a continuum between Lucinda Williams, The Stooges and R.E.M., Liar’s Paradise channels the lost, cold, grey Great Lakes landscape into something melancholic and heart-warming. Beautiful, evocative music is delivered with the energy of a punk band courtesy the Bonham-esque drumming of Danny Miles but the volume of his YC Drum Co. shells does not overpower the tenderness inside the lyrics and music. Songs are tear machines, and the collection on Liar’s Paradise is no exception.”


March 22, 2022

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This was recorded live off the floor with no overdubs and mastered by Andy Magoffin at House of Miracles while on tour in Cambridge, Ont. This recording captures the longest-running incarnation of the electric band at the top of its game. Featuring Connor Ellinger on drums and Tavo Diez de Bonilla on bass. Photographs by Francis A Willey and Rob Ert.”


Trout River Conspiracy

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is a musical novel that charts a chronological history of Newfoundland beginning with the life and death of Shanawdithit and ending with the disappearance of Danny Pickett. The ghosts of Western, Central, Fogo Island, and St John’s weave their way throughout the songs, and both traditional and new instruments create arrangements that wash against the listener like teary North Atlantic waves on a jagged, rocky shore.”