A Mild Case Of Flashback (54.40, Keep On Walking review)
Every time I look at you, I go blind. In the mornin’ I get up, and I try to
Feel alive, but I can’t.
Maybe it’s because I’m lovesick, and maybe it’s that you’re so intense. Most likely it’s because you are making music inspired by the 1990s in the 2010s and no one seems to have noticed.
54.40 – Keep On Walking
released February 2, 2018
54-40 are a Canadian alternative rock group from British Columbia (BC) that have been playing together for over thirty five years. Their name is taken from the slogan 54-40 or fight! which was originally spoken during the Oregon boundary dispute between the US and Canada in the early nineteenth century.
The group was established back in 1981 and was a three piece for their first couple of years, and has been a four man band ever since that time, seeing a few lineup changes in their drummer over the years and second guitarist Phil Comparelli was replaced by Dave Genn in 2005. But Neil Osborne (vocals, guitar) and Brad Merrit (bass) are founding members who have stuck it out.
I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to a lot of their music over the years, but I am familiar with their more popular singles Ocean Pearl and I Go Blind.
Keep on Walking is their fourteenth studio album, and was prefaced by the band touring with the single of the same name for about a year. They sprinkled in other tracks as they toured, but I have to wonder if that process is a good measuring stick. A lot of the time, older bands will play night after night, maintaining a crowd of fans, but failing to realize the reason those fans are there in the first place – to hear the songs that charted and established the groups reputation.
I’ve seen Trooper live at least three times in my life, and every time I saw them, they would “share” a new song they had been working on, except that it had been new for over three years at that point.
Pros: I liked that Sublime Like Me, Hold My Kiss, and She Calls Us One are exploring a broader range of musical sounds, but each track is distinct in instrumental choices and nuanced with arrangements.
Cons: Despite all of the growth we witness at key points, as the album reaches it’s final two tracks (Sometimes It’s Not OK, Life Goes On) there is a regression, and in a few short minutes, it’s back to the safety net.
Runtime: 38 minutes
Points of Interest: The band will be touring throughout 2018 and into 2019 to promote Keep On Walking and their 2016 greatest hits album LA Difference. It’s been seven years since their last studio album, Lost in the City.
When it’s all said an done, Keep On Walking was enjoyable at times and definitely makes me nostalgic for a different time in my life, when things seemed simpler and music was more clearly defined. The problem of course, is that it’s not 1995, it’s 2018, and musical tastes should reflect the era, not the other way around.
The challenge with making music (or any art form) for several decades is that you will invariably be asked to make what you know, and some artists rise to the occasion, while others continue to evolve over time. There isn’t necessarily a right path to take, but in the case of 54.40 I don’t think that their musical sound is appealing enough to justify playing a distinctive kind of music at this stage in their career. This album seems to be best suited for diehard fans, and lovers of 90’s alternative rock music – and that’s my theory.
That said, I have a great piece of 1990s alternative rock that you absolutely should listen to. Rage Against the Machine’s Battle of Los Angeles is a timeless rap rock record that deserves a listen if you haven’t heard it before. And if you have, I think it might be time to dust off your CD player and give it a whirl, it’s guerilla radio at it’s finest.
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