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You Am I
Convicts
Yep Roc Records
www.youami.net


Australia is one of those places that seems to have a disproportionate amount of great bands per head of population. Maybe it's the relative isolation from the rest of the music biz, or perhaps the Aussies are just adept at turning their British and American influences into something new and fresh; from The Easybeats through Radio Birdman and The Saints to The Go-Betweens, The Church and beyond, an incredible amount of compelling, instrumental music has come out of the Antipodes in the last few decades.

With only a few exceptions, though (Men At Work, anyone - and did you know that Silverchair named themselves after a You Am I song ?), most of Australia's best have remained big stars at home but cult favourites abroad, known mostly to music obsessives or fans of the more famous artists that influenced them. So it is with You Am I, who've been releasing excellent music since the early nineties. They've grown from grunge beginnings through power pop to more of a classic rock sound nowadays, propelled by the great songwriting of Tim Rogers and one of the best live shows around. If you need some references, Sloan are the closest I can think of, but fans of The Hold Steady, Supergrass or The Replacements should also find much to like here.

Convicts (the title may be a nod to Australia's history, the country being largely built by banished criminals from Britain) is one of You Am I's best records yet, honing the power pop and hard rock of their recent albums into a slightly more polished, classic sound that's still rough enough around the edges to satisfy fans of their influences like the mighty Birdman (drummer Russell Hopkinson was picked for the recent Birdman tour, and also plays on their great recent album Zeno Beach).

There isn't really a bad song on the whole album, but a few standouts include the pounding "It Ain't Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore" (Brits of a certain age may shudder to remember the similarly titled, but otherwise dissimilar Cliff Richard Christmas hit), the slower but intense "By My Own Hand" and the totally rockin' "Gunslingers."

Take a chance on this CD or check out the songs online if you're intrigued, then look out for Hourly, Daily or #4 Record if you're hooked. Here's hoping a few of you out there will discover yet another Australian gem.

-Gareth Bowles

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