Spun: Stripper’s Union

By Peter Hemminger

]Take one of the most underrated Canadian bands of the ’90s, add one of the most overrated Canadian bands ever, and you’re left with Stripper’s Union. Their debut album Local 518 is competently written, impeccably performed, and strangely lacking in charisma. It is, in a word, Canadian.

This isn’t meant to slight the vast amount of talent in our nation’s musical underground, but any country that salutes the likes of Nickelback as rock saviours while ignoring groups like the Dears or the Constantines clearly has a taste for blandness. This is the only explanation for the untouchable status of the Tragically Hip, a glorified bar band who lucked into finding an above par frontman and were rewarded with the title of Best Band Ever Except Maybe the Guess Who.

Thankfully, Hip guitarist Rob Baker has found another fine vocalist in Craig Northey of the Odds, who put out some of the cleverest rock of the ’90s only to disappear from the public consciousness when that band split at the turn of the millennium. The result is a bit funkier than the Hip, a bit harder rocking than the Odds, and a bit less likely than either of those groups to end up in regular rotation on CJAY.

While the pairing never hits the peaks of either band’s best singles, it’s a pleasant enough listen. Baker replaces his usual watered down blues with a more full-blooded stomp, even adding in Dixieland jazz on “Local Bear,” and the result is much more palatable. While Northey has lost some of his vocal power he can still throw out his share of lyrical hooks. The result is exactly what you would expect of a super-group from a country which has hailed Bryan Adams and Loverboy as its public faces of rock–likeable but underwhelming.

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