Published May 25, 2010Seven years since The Battle of the Nudes, the informal charm of the Country of Miracles is refined on The Grand Bounce, another remarkable offering by Gord Downie. In an introductory essay, Downie playfully recounts the inspiration for these songs, tonally encapsulating his open mindset for this band. Since emerging with 2001's Coke Machine Glow, Downie has explored a looser, relatively more lo-fi sound than that of the Tragically Hip's. And by recruiting underground aces Julie Doiron, Dave Clark, Dale Morningstar, Josh Finlayson and John Press for his band, Downie is surrounded by friends who inspire risk. Overseen by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, there's a hazy summertime vibe to The Grand Bounce that's perfect for cottage escapes and easy evenings. The mood is best exemplified on "Yellow Days," featuring a murky groove propelling its imagery to slow dance like no one's watching. But it's present elsewhere too; the festive stomp of "Moon Over Glenora" features a sweet Downie/Doiron duet and even the dynamic build of "The Dance and its Disappearance" is celebratory fun. Downie's songs may be more structured on The Grand Bounce, but that doesn't curb the Country of Miracles' enthusiasm.
Why spill so many beans in that essay?
Downie: Well, probably like any good fox, to throw off the scent to more beans that could be spilled, I suppose. In the past, I've held onto them like a pie maker who doesn't want you to see how I make it. But there's connectivity; people make things and go through a long, beautiful process to do it. I'd be selfish to not allow people to be part of that.
Your solo work seems less rickety now.
I hear what you're saying. On the earlier records, you could hear chairs scraping, doors closing, muttering and things that gave them a lot of personality. I was more interested in Chris getting together with these guys; his sonic sense with their spirit. It was a hunch that together we'd do something interesting and I think it does still hint at process.
Do you delineate songs for the Country of Miracles and the Hip?
No, I still adhere to the Raymond Carver adage: "Use it up; don't save a thing for later." That lets me sleep at night. I get it and use it and then whatever's up next, I do. (Universal)