In the post-Cross Canadian Ragweed era, Cody Canada put together an elite band, that earned a reputation for being a band that does whatever feels right. The Departed have pushed the outer limits of the red dirt genre, and delved deeper into rock, punk and blues. It comes together seamlessly on their latest effort, HippieLovePunk.

Cover by Betsy Baird

On HippieLovePunk, something has gelled with the current band, and what Cody Canada and the Departed offer up is a really terrific album. Not a bunch of songs, but a collection of music that blends wonderfully. Sure, the individual cuts stand-alone, but there's something about all eleven songs that just go great together...like all great records were 30-40 years ago.

The opening cut, Comin' to Me, offers the most edgy punk sound (complete with an F-bomb), but Inbetweener has plenty to offer from the opposite side of the spectrum. You get a seemingly endless supply of rocking country blues riffs. The haunting acoustic guitar and keys solos in Maker are a true highlight. Stay is catchy and easy going without sounding commercial. I could listen to HippieLovePunk over and over, and find something new and cool in the lyrics and music every time.

What's so different about HippieLovePunk over 2012's Adventus? Guitarist/singer Seth James has moved on to other things. Much like the dismantling of Ragweed did, hearing about James' departure made me a little nervous. After all, he is a world class talent. But from the sound of the new Departed CD, I believe this will be a great thing for all parties involved - fans included - at the end of the day. So now Canada is writing all the songs with a couple co-writes, and takes over all the lead guitar duties.

Inbetweener is the first single off the new CD, and rather than it being the best "radio single" on the album, it's simply a great representation of what you get throughout HippieLovePunk. Save for an F-bomb or two, the entire disc could easily find its way to the airwaves, and the only problem Cody and the Departed would have is choosing which ones to send off to radio.

HippieLovePunk spares no opportunity to showcase the great players in the band. Canada's vocals and guitar playing are as good as ever, Chris Doege and Jeremy Plato have always made for a brilliant rhythm section, and Steve Littleton's keys add a depth to the new Departed CD that takes it to another level. All that talent, yet the overall sound of HippieLovePunk spares the listener conceited overindulgence. In short, this is a band effort, leaving a satisfying end result.

HippieLovePunk ships Jan. 7th, but you can pre-order it now at the band's website. This is a no-brainer. Add it to your collection, and file it under "one of the best CD's of the year, hands down"...or something like that.

Cody Canada and the Departed - 'HippieLovePunk' Track Listing:

1. Comin to Me
2. Inbetweener
3. Easy
4. Revolution
5. Back Closer
6. Got It
7. Great Big Nothing
8. Maker
9. Stay
10. Boss of Me
11. All Nighter

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