REVIEW: Coal Creek Boys – “Hard At It In Old Town (reissue)”

The past few years have been quite busy for the Coal Creek Boys, with hundreds of live shows throughout Canada and the US, a documentary, and multiple releases (including Out West, one of my favorite albums of 2015) the tried and true system of hard work and dedication has earned them a reputable name in the independent music business.


With the success of the aforementioned Out West last year, many fans who had recently discovered the band, visited coal5their previous releases and wondered if a vinyl issue of the first album Hard At It In Old Town would see a re-release on the format.  Thankfully, the demand is high enough for Classic Waxxx Records to announce a very limited pressing of a “Fan Edition”, complete with hand silk screened, numbered cover art, a fold out poster, and a beautiful, whiskey soaked color variant, as well as a download card of bonus material exclusive to this release.

Originally released in 2012, Hard At It In Old Town is a collection of stories about  loss, tragedy and heritage, delivered in the same outlaw country meets historical ghost story fashion that was prominent of their 2015 release Out West, but on this earlier go around, the narrative is focused less on the beauty of history, and more on the cold hard realities of coal mining in Elk Valley, British Columbia.

Even with the bleak subject matters of losing loved ones, and the day to day grind of being a miner, Hard At It never feels heavy handed or too dire to enjoy casually. The Coal Creek Boys crafted their style of storytelling early on and have mixed flavors of folk, country, and even a touch of rock n roll, creating a distinctive style that is adapts itself  nicely to the stories featured in the album. It’s almost as if you are listening to live accounts of people who lived through the events long enough to celebrate them by a night around a campfire with loved ones and heavy liquor.

hardatit2The overall sound of the record isn’t as polished and groomed as Out West, but it’s not meant to be. The raw, live element give life to the songs in a way than could never be recreated in a state of the art recording studio driven on Pro-Tools and other digital effects. Albums like this, and ultimately bands like Coal Creek Boys need to be self-presented to compliment the authenticity of the art they are delivering. Performing these songs with digital compression and auto-tune would be an injustice to their craft and quite honestly, disrespectful to the stories they are telling.

If you are a fan of Out West, looking for an album of authentic storytelling, or just want a record that sounds nothing like anything on mainstream country radio, Hard At It In Old Town is the fine record you are looking for.  Hearing the warmth and attention to detail within in the vinyl release, elevates my appreciation of the band’s hard work and makes this album truly a special release.


For more information, visit the official Coal Creek Boys website

To purchase the limited Fan Edition vinyl pression of Hard At It In Old Town visit Classic Waxxx Records


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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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