The Dickens The Dickens

This rock’n’roll band are led by Paul Emery, a veteran of the Toronto club circuit who’s now better known as the owner of one of the city’s most musician-friendly watering holes, the Communist’s Daughter. Time behind the beer taps hasn’t brought creative rust though, as this disc is his best yet. He’s given able assistance by his band mates and the production by fellow vet John Critchley (13 Engines). There are no frills here, just melodic yet gritty songs that’ll brighten your day. One reference point could be mid-period Replacements, and there’s a Westerberg-ian gruff honesty in both Emery’s vocals and his down to earth songwriting. There’s no concession to trends either, as demonstrated by the occasional un-hip but effective guitar solo and his defence of the aged Stones in "I Will Hold Your Spot,” an album highlight. Paul pays justified tribute to a Toronto indie rock hero in "Hats Off To Gord Cumming,” one that does Cumming (the leader of the Lawn) justice. The Dickens also pay tribute to their hometown on "Downtown Is Awesome” and, in turn, this is a disc Toronto can be pleased to call its own. (Independent)