The cover of Three on the Tree—the third release from the Montreal six piece—features a mighty, ham-fisted fellow downshifting his way along a deserted winding stretch of road in the dead of night, presumably on his way to work where he’ll be punching the clock for another graveyard shift. This interpretation is fitting, considering the 12 greasy, sweat-stained and alcohol-fueled tracks on the disc, that depict stories of life in the blue collar section of Montreal; its close knit community and the pain of watching as it slowly gives way to both decay and progress.
United Steel Workers of Montreal’s music is a little like Tom Waits and the Pogues after a few pints of straight whiskey and an all day punch up rolled into one. Known for their blistering live sets, the shared vocal duties of Gern F, Felicity Hamer and Shawn Beauchamp lend a welcome diversity to the band and provide some serious spunk. The tuneful tales they spin are steeped in the swing/alt-country/jazz category ranging from frenetically paced boot stomping highs to syrupy, dark woeful lows, and all are believably effective because of their brutal honesty. There is little room for puppies and happy rainbows here; just true-grit stories of working class people living and experiencing as a community. This is as authentic as it gets.