by Wheaton Hop
It’s not often I’m left speechless. Sitting with this album, I spent a good amount of time pondering how I could actually go about writing anything worthy of Spot McRackin’s debut solo record, New Tricks. How do I do this one justice without resorting to silly, cheesy turns of phrase? Can I convey how pristine and professional this sounds and still sprinkle it with humour and cheesy Heatherisms? Considering the fact that Spot is a rare, bipedal canine with a penchant for hanging out with oversized eggs, I decided I would just tell it like it is. Anything less would be a disservice. Suffice it to say, this album speaks for itself so do yourself a favor… Sit! Stay! This album will definitely have you begging for more.
Lianna sets the pace and leads us into it all with one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. Every time this track ends, I find myself panting for more. In a just world, this would be a chart topping hit. It’s one of those tunes that has you instantly visualizing the story in your head too. I’m picturing Spot chasing Lianna around as she walks down the street, trying to get her attention with all the tail wagging and energy you’d expect from a rambunctious pup with nothing but love to give and a need for some “good boy” validation. Come on Lianna, give a dog a bone.
The 2nd track, YOYVR, is an ode to that legendary tale of the time McRackins set off on a tumultuous journey from Canada to play their first show in 10 years at Punk Rock Raduno in Bergamo, Italy. Spot chronicles the adventure with a litany of obstacles that eventually lead to an unforgettable experience surrounded by the magical combination that is punk rock and friendship. This one gives a nod to more than a few names you’re sure to recognize and a reminder to us all that sometimes the hardest journeys lead to the sweetest rewards.
With the next few songs, the album takes a darker turn yet still manages to provide the immaculate drumming and stupefyingly sizzling guitar work which leaves me, once again, scratching my head as to how Spot and his McRackins brethren aren’t selling out stadiums worldwide.
Realize is about decisions to cut ties with someone or something that’s just not what it appeared to be. “I’d rather be alone than with you.” Damn straight. Because, as the old adage goes, if my dog doesn’t like you… I don’t like you so, scram. We’ve got some rocking and rolling to do here.
Now, a bunch of you here might not be old enough to remember the pop culture reference for track 4. A Dingo Ate My Baby was an oft used quip in the 80s and early 90s that people around the world flippantly bandied about for a laugh after a Meryl Streep film came out depicting an actual gruesome true story that not many people believed. Spot gives us a history lesson with this one and chastises us based on the fact that we tend to latch onto sensationalism too quickly and become judge, jury, and executioner well before the truth comes out. We’re lazy and sometimes too willing to forgo truth for the sake of entertainment. It may sound crazy but it’s true. He’s not wrong.
No bones about it, Spot McRackin does not mince words on Never Said I Loved You and gives us our anthem of anger for those moments we find ourselves absolutely fed up. Scathing lyrics like “so here’s a token of my undying apathy” and “better be prepared for what’s in store, and that’s a life without me.” make it pretty clear he’s over your shit and his hackles are up. Ouch.
Heading into the last half of New Tricks, Isolation Therapy, the first single, is a pure rocker and another chronicle of the pandemic we can’t seem to escape. Spot succinctly describes the frustration, exhaustion, and fear we all feel and, not for nothing, we all could use a little therapy before we get Abandoned. Abandoned carries on the theme of aggressive lyrics and hard ass attitude, complete with Motorhead-esque chants of A.B.A.N.D.O.N.E.D. Chained up and forced to suffer alone while everyone else seems to be yolking it up in a pit somewhere. Fear not puppers, brighter days are on the way.
Keeping hope alive, Spot comes in on track 8, Take Me For A Walk, with a decidedly lighter feel good romp of loyalty and dedication. It’s a sugary rock ballad snack that leads us to the bittersweet Bye Bye My Love. It’s an achingly familiar refrain about love and loss and, although it’s a saddish song, you’ll still find yourself singing and swaying along to the catchiness of it all. Life is an emotional dichotomy by nature, I suppose… wishing things could stay the same but hoping for some positive change. I felt for the guy in this one but still think he’s gonna get the treats he deserves in the end but not before he has to Shut You Up. Closing out the album, you can feel the credits rolling along as Spot tells you how it is, going out in a blaze of glory. When he barks, you listen. And trust me, you are going to want to listen.
Given the high caliber quality of releases we’ve heard and others set for this year, we’re a pretty lucky bunch lately. Spot McRackin has finally dug up a whole lot of treasures he’s been hiding from us but now he’s almost ready to share, so go fetch!
New Tricks includes appearances from not only his eggcellent brothers Fil, Bil, and AC but he also joins forces with J Prozac, as well as Mick Wood and Mike Federici of Dirtbag Republic, and Chris Damien Doll of Trashcan Darlings/Suicide Bombers. Mixed by Maria Maxwell and mastered by none other than Justin Perkins himself, these 10 tracks of solid rock and roll are available for presale April 15th through Germany’s Last Exit Records, McRackins Records, Memorable But Not Honorable on cassette, and Little Lost Girl Media for limited 8 track.
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