Joel Plaskett Emergency
It's about being in love with music. It's about the best friends in the band and their friendship that gets wrecked over a girl. In a brisk 40-minutes-and-change, Ashtray Rock is a concept album that dances circles around the pretensions of its gatefold-sleeved ancestors. Anthemic and bittersweet at the same time, the record's 13 tracks are pitched between exhilaration and despair, and as they address friendship and love and betrayals and endings and forgiveness, the songs are infused with the feeling of that time of your life when everything is happening for the first time. As different from the acoustic-driven La De Da as it was from the stadium rock of Truthfully Truthfully, and as it was from the haunted, country-tinged Down at the Khyber, or the urgent, lo-fi In Need of Medical Attention, Ashtray Rock is a testament to the tuneful, inventive and always evolving songwriting of Joel Plaskett. After last year's Make a Little Noise EP and the extensive airplay of "Nowhere With You," Ashtray Rock sees the Emergency reuniting with the EP's producer Gordie (Big Sugar) Johnson. And if the band giving over the studio reins to Johnson's radio-friendly polish sounded like a risk, this record shows it was no risk at all. Intimate and heartfelt and full of ear candy, Ashtray Rock sounds like a love letter to the friends Plaskett grew up making music with.