Big Sugar

Brothers & Sisters, Are You Ready?

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    5
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Having benefited both from Gordie Johnson's tinkerings with dub side project Alkaline and the acquisition of additional riddim guitarist Mojah, Big Sugar veers into a distinctly more esoteric direction on this, their fifth outing. As with 1998's Heated, Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready? is loaded with a batch of dependable high-octane rock crunchers (particularly album opener "Red Rover," lead single "Nicotina," and "All Hell for a Basement") and some passable exercises in rock-dub fusion (both "Nashville Grass" and the chirruping "Pretty Bird" coast along on reggae-informed guitar lines). Unfortunately, it's not always enough to disguise Johnson's obvious creative lull; too many of the songs plod along aimlessly for this to rank among the band's finer moments. A consolation note: the inclusion of an amped-up "O Canada" and the coinciding release of Brothers and Sisters Êtes Vous Ready? (which marks the first time an English-speaking Canadian band has ever simultaneously released an album in English and French) will forever ensure that Big Sugar has a spot in the annals of Canadian music history.

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