In Violet Light

The Tragically Hip | Rounder

Long revered in their native Canada, the Tragically Hip have never gotten their propers in the states. A gloomier alternative to R.E.M., the quintet boasts a charismatic front man in Gordon Downie, with his haunted, film-noir voice. Through intricate lyrics -- name-dropping the likes of Raymond Carver and Robert Lowell -- Downie reveals himself to be a tangle of competing impulses. But the real payoff comes from the physical jolt of the music. Amid churning guitars and a clattering rhythm section, the Hip recount "a blowout of wicked proportions" on "All Tore-Up." In any light, violet or otherwise, these hipsters are worth another look.