Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Monday, December 18, 2017

Craig Dougan - Still Rising - Album Review

Track Listing

1.Deep Inside
2. Here We Come
3. Out On Patrol
4. Drop The Puck
5. Someday Soon (for Gord Downie)
6. Inherit The Sun
7. I'm Feeling Glad
8. Casey Is Gone
9. I'm Home
​10. Do What You Want To
© 2017

All songs written & Produced by Craig Dougan
Mixed by Wayne Bond at Black Ridge Studios, Cambridge, ON
Mastered by Harry Hess at HBomb Mastering
View on iTunes

Since the Fall of 1990, Craig Dougan has fronted  The Almost Hip - the longest running Tragically Hip tribute in Canada. An assiduous musician that's evident by the tracks on his latest release 'Still Rising' (released on December 1, 2017).  A collection of tunes that illustrate Craig's songwriting prowess mated with his expertise on the guitar and bass. Vocally, Craig delivers his words with conviction and feeling. The listener can't help but believe every word he is singing and find some correlation to their own experiences. Along with new songs, there are four previously released tracks that can be found on the EP 'Hard Rock Rising'  (released in 2015). 

He has assembled some fantastic musicians to play on 'Still Rising'. Rob Taylor, Wayne Bond, George Petrou all appear on drums, John Petrou on bass. ​Paul Woods on lead guitar, and Craig handles the remaining guitar, bass and vocals.

​The Kitchener native is no stranger to some of the most sought after stages in Ontario. He's played at the iconic Horseshoe Tavern with its checkerboard floors. The once longest bar in the world, LuLu's Roadhouse. Even appearing at numerous Ribfests & festivals throughout Southern Ontario and countless other venues.

For anyone who has seen Craig live, be it with 'The Almost Hip' or the 'Craig Dougan Trio', one thing that is undeniable is he has that charisma that a frontman requires to captivate their audience. Regardless of the size of venue or number of people in attendance, Craig is entertaining to watch and delivers a great show.  

​​Right out of the gates 'Deep Inside' opens the album in true rock guitar fashion. Straightforward lyrics, it's definitely a terrific tune with a catchy beat and hook. A balance of each instrument, vocals included, it creates a fun, high energy song to get the album started.

​There's no unnecessary layering or addition of bells and whistles on any of the tunes. Proof that the "less is more" mentality is present on songs like  'Here We Come' and  'Out on Patrol'. The latter which was the song Craig entered in the 2015 Hard Rock Toronto competition.

Watch Video: 'Here We Come'

Many of the songs on 'Still Rising' have that simple blend of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals all which make them enjoyable to listen to. The songs are genuine and not contrived.

It doesn't get any more Canadian than the hockey themed 'Drop The Puck'. It's a perfect example how a catchy hook and relatable lyrics can make a song a hit. Containing all the right elements, it could definitely be a commercial success.

​On October 17, 2017 the Country mourned the passing of Gord Downie. Obviously fronting The Almost Hip for decades, it was no surprise that Craig pays tribute to the late Hip singer, who he had the pleasure of meeting back in the late '90s. The song 'Someday Soon' is fitting for anyone who has lost someone important in their lives.

A personal favourite on the album is 'Inherit The Sun'. With a slight acoustic feel, it features fellow Almost Hip member, Paul Woods on lead guitar. It's a gentler side to Craig's vocals, but still powerful. A great example of a song that combines rock, country rock with a bluesy feel to it. It really can cross over and appeal to multiple genres.

You can easily hear similarities in his music to Sam Roberts, 54-40 and of course the Hip. He has shared the stage with some iconic Canadian musicians namely, Kim Mitchell, Colin James, April Wine and Trooper. Ironically the very first time I ever seen The Almost Hip was when they were support for Trooper back in 1998 at the legendary LuLu's Roadhouse in Kitchener.

The next two tracks, 'I'm Feeling Glad' and 'Casey is Gone'  were also on the 'Hard Rock Rising' EP. Both tracks possess that unmistakable Craig Dougan sound. ​ The vocals saturate the tracks with the addition of wicked guitar riffs and solos.

Most tracks I found hit me the first time listening to them. I had a greater appreciation for 'I'm Home' after a few listens. While it wasn't one particular thing that stood out, I was drawn to the more rock oriented tracks on the album over this one. But as I listened to it more, it did grow on me and found myself singing along and actually enjoying it.

The closing track on 'Still Rising'' is another track previously released on the EP.  'Do What You Want To'. ​

The song has that instant hook and melody that in no time you are grooving along with. 

Watch Video for 'I'm Feeling Glad'

Individually, the tracks can carry themselves fine. Collectively they are a cohesive group of tunes that showcase different aspects of Craig's vocals and playing style.

Having had the opportunity to hear some of these songs performed live, I was already a fan of some of them. Listening to the cd multiple times now,  I can say I have a greater appreciation for the songs and Craig's songwriting in particular.

If you're looking for a straight up rock and roll cd, with no unnecessary gimmicks and not overproduced, then 'Still Rising' is the perfect choice.

'Still Rising' is available at any of Craig's live shows. Or contacting him through Facebook for purchasing. Some of the proceeds from each CD sold, will go to The Brain Cancer Institute.
​For show dates, for both the Trio and Almost Hip, follow both bands on Facebook (Links below). 

                                                                                         Also Available

 Special thanks to Craig for the cds and for always being welcoming at his shows. Definitely looking forward to more gigs in 2018. I wish you all the success!

Still Rising (CD No.3) - 2017
Hard Rock Rising (CD No.2) - 2015
Craig Dougan - The Project (1998)
Craig Dougan 
​Official Facebook Page
Official ReverbNation Profile
Official YouTube ChannelOfficial Spotify

The Almost Hip
The Almost Hip Official Website
The Almost Hip Official Facebook Page                                                                                

Also published on Kaotic Notes

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