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Latest Album Reviews

Rob Thomas’ new album is titled The Great Unknown. Picture: Supplied

Rob Thomas’ new album is titled The Great Unknown. Picture: Supplied
Source: Supplied

Does Rob Thomas want to push you around? Is Georgia from Atlanta? Will Bad//Dreems give you nightmares? Does Holding The Man drop the ball? Will Buried in Verona rise above vultures or get their lions crossed?

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

THE GREAT UNKNOWN ROB THOMAS

[WARNER]

***

Rob Thomas Great Unknown album cover

Rob Thomas Great Unknown album cover
Source: Supplied

When Rob Thomas wrote solo comeback single Trust You with Ryan Tedder of One Republic it must have been like looking in a musical mirror.

When Thomas is out front of Matchbox Twenty, like Tedder, he’s in a proudly commercial band who exist outside the world of hipster rock or alternative cool.

The problem with that is that you live and die by getting your songs on commercial radio. It’s why Maroon 5 now rely on working with Katy Perry’s songwriters to get sure-fire hits.

Thomas and Tedder should be radio catnip, but weirdly Trust You backfires by being way too eager to please as many people as possible.

Thomas’ third solo album has some ground to make up — America didn’t care for 2009’s Cradlesong. But he’s so busy trying on styles that have been popular on radio that he loses his sense of himself.

Hold On and One Shot try on the Mumford & Sons folk thing, but even One Direction beat Thomas to that sound. Wind It Up tries on some electronic reggae for size (it doesn’t fit) and Absence Of Affection and Things You Said see Thomas delve into commercial dance in a misguided attempt to try to compete with today’s pop stars.

At least I Think We’d Feel Good Together falls on the right side of cheesy ’80s pop, but Thomas is best when simply refining what people already love him for. The title track is a moody ballad with enough gothic electronica to suggest he’s been listening to Lorde. See also Paper Dolls. The obvious radio hit is buried at the end — Heaven Help Me is classic, catchy Rob Thomas pop. And when he strips things just to a piano and a voice on Pieces, all his genre-hopping is (best) forgotten. / CAMERON ADAMS

SOUNDS LIKE: Rob reboots

IN A WORD: polished

Trust You – Rob Thomas

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/rock-pop/great-unknown-the/771000/

DOGS AT BAY

BAD//DREEMS

[IVY LEAGUE RECORDS]

*** 1/2

Dogs at Bay - Bad//Dreems (Ivy League Records)

Dogs at Bay – Bad//Dreems (Ivy League Records)
Source: Supplied

Bad//Dreems know their product. The rowdy Radelaide quartet spin yarns about sheilas and blokes with a fair debt owed to GOD (the band), The Choirboys and Paul Kelly. On their debut album Bad//Dreems place familiar garage grooves next to the Weetbix-and-Jager vocals of Ben Marwe with almost balletic poise. News Boys and Bogan Pride weave bikies and good ol’ hard yakka into the equation. Dumb Ideas is choked with regret, our narrator Marwe hocks up a “Nyah!” Ghost Gums’ cylindrical guitar arrangements fraternise with you and the sequencing of the record is on-point: it starts off with a hangover, pushes through it and gets back on it by the end, hair of the dog ‘n’ all that. / MIKEY CAHILL

SOUNDS LIKE: Despite the taste, something’s in the water

IN A WORD: mucky

Hiding To Nothing – Bad//Dreems

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/alternative/dogs-at-bay/730692/

VULTURES ABOVE LIONS BELOW

BURIED IN VERONA

[UNFD]

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Vultures Above Lions Below - Buried In Verona (UNFD)

Vultures Above Lions Below – Buried In Verona (UNFD)
Source: Supplied

Sydney metalcore warhorses Buried In Verona have been doing it tough. Notorious (2012) and Faceless (2014) saw the group on the up until rats in the ranks nearly pulled them asunder. Only two original members have survived, singer Brett Anderson and guitarist Richie Newman. Dig Me Out is vintage Pantera grunt-rock: cheese-grater guitars and Anderson’s snapping demand “So dig me out”. It’s just what Bill’s Bride was thinking, stuck in her premature grave until she brought out Pai Mei’s three-inch punch. Anderson shows off his mid-range on Hurricane, Unbroken and Separation, calling out the leeches — a murky, Machiavellian subplot. Fans will be relieved BIV made it out of their coffin. / MIKEY CAHILL

SOUNDS LIKE: voodoo bile (slight returns)

IN A WORD: peeved

Pathways – Buried in Verona

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/hardcore/vultures-above-lions-below/766074/

GEORGIA

GEORGIA

[DOMINO]

*** 1/2

Georgia - Selftitled (Domino)

Georgia – Selftitled (Domino)
Source: Supplied

Buzz London counter-popster Georgia has the most ridiculous mononym for Googling. But, as the daughter of Leftfield’s Neil Barnes, she has reason to retain anonymity. In fact, techno kids are rising up, Detroit “godfather” Juan Atkins’ daughter Milan Ariel recently making Blade Runner soul. Georgia self-produced this auspicious debut at home. Her sound is hyper-hybridised, zigzagging around acid, electro, Scandi-pop and arty, MIA-mode post-grime (the excellent single Move Systems). Heart Wrecking Animals is FKA Twigs-y future balladry. If Georgia falters, it’s because some songs remain unhewn, like SoundCloud demos. But she IS authentic, which count(er)s for a lot. / CYCLONE WEHNER

SOUNDS LIKE: rhythm and stealth

IN A WORD: spirited

Move Systems – Georgia

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/alternative/georgia/766170/

SOUNDTRACK

HOLDING THE MAN

[SONY]

*** 1/2

Holding the Man soundtrack album cover

Holding the Man soundtrack album cover
Source: Supplied

Now here’s how you do a soundtrack. This incredible new Australian film is set in the ’70s and ‘80s so naturally features some hits of the era including Dragon’s wildly underrated This Time, Masters Apprentices’ Because I Love You and Dave Mason’s stunning solo version of The Reels’ Quasimodo’s Dream. There’s a touch of early ‘80s HiNRG with Bronksi Beat’s extended cover of I Feel Love and an even longer dub version of Pete Shelley’s Homosapien. As well as some T-Rex and Bryan Ferry, and orchestral scores to all set the right scenes at the right time, there’s a bespoke Rufus Wainwright ballad, Forever and a Year, which could make a statue weep. / CAMERON ADAMS

SOUNDS LIKE: a great soundtrack to a great film

IN A WORD: enjoyable

This Time – Dragon

https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/soundtrack/holding-the-man-ost/730612/

Agree? Disagree? Wanna have a stoush about it? Play nice. @cameron_adams@joeylightbulb @therealcyclone

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