Ron Hawkins is a stalwart of the Toronto music scene. He has been consistently writing, recording and performing since the early 1990s. Probably best known for his work with Lowest of the Low, Hawkins has also released music as a solo artist, with the bands Ron Hawkins and The Rusty Nails and Ron Hawkins and the Do Good Assassins. He has managed to keep unique sounds for each while having a united “Ron Hawkins” sound. 246, the latest album from Ron Hawkins & the Do Good Assassins, drops August 28, 2020 and is named after the Tascam 4-track used in the recording, another solid Hawkins creation. It’s 10 tracks of rockin’ tunes, none of which feel like a half-assed effort or filler.
This is the ultimate road trip album. It was a good thing that there wasn’t any traffic or police around when I had my first listen. I was driving home from one of my first days back at the office since everything was shut down due to COVID and by the time the second song ended I looked down at my speedometer and found that I was going close to 140 km/h (85 mph) at the behest of the music (which is quite the feat in my Corolla). I slowed down to closer to the limit, but sure enough the music got into me and my speed was creeping back up. Eventually, I gave up and set the cruise control.
The opening track, “Teenage Insurrection” is telling people that it’s not okay to just sit in the passenger seat and not take a stand. Instead, it’s vitally important to make a decision and take a stand. Make your voice heard. As the song says, “Every idle minute is a murdered one. Cause when hesitation’s the bullet. Procrastination’s the gun.”
The second single, “Heartbreak in Hopper Street” continues along the same message. The horns, harmonies and melodies on the song do a great job of hiding the fact that this would make a phenomenal call-to-arms punk song that would have the kids in the circle pit going nuts.
As I listened to the album for the first time, I found that I already knew one of the songs. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a cover; I’ve seen Hawkins perform more times than I can remember over the past 25 years or so and I cannot recall him ever doing a cover at a show, much less on an album. “Genevieve” was first recorded in 2009 on his album 10 Kinds of Lonely. It’s been reimagined for 2020 with a more upbeat, electric sound and horn section.
One of my favorite tracks has to be “Up To Yer Neck,” a fun rockabilly tune about not realizing just how much trouble one can get into until it’s too late. The final track on the album, “Love is a Poison Thing” shows that after 30 years of constant performing Hawkins still has the vocal chops to pull off a tender love song.
Since lockdown has started, Hawkins has been performing every Tuesday night on Facebook; be sure to check him out.
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