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CD Review

Austrailian punk-pop rockers pump out another great album.

You Am I - Convicts

Yep Roc Records

By Scott Homewood

Austrailia's You Am I just keep making better and better albums to the point that it's always scary when the band puts a new album out. Always with anticipation I wonder if the band has actually done the impossible and topped itself again or if they have finally, finally hit the wall and are in for the decline. Both results can be frought with danger for the consumer. At what point does the band decline? It's gonna happen sooner or later and you're gonna be stuck with the albums when it happens because you're gonna keep buying them. You see? If they top themselves now then it's just gonna happen when the next one comes out and if this album shows decline, well, you've already bought it, haven't you?

Now, the real question is if you've just bought that paragraph full of bullshit I've just written. Sure, the fact You Am I keeps getting better is scary. Scary for all the other bands who have to compete with them at the marketplace for your dollars. This album is without question the band's best, and I am a fierce admirer of the band's #4 Record album and Convicts kicks the shit out of that one. Songwriter/lead singer Tim Rogers is seemingly an endless font of great songs and his solo discs and You Am I rarities comps haven't yet been enough to take up all of his exemplary material. Saying he can churn them out doesn't do justice to the endless wellspring of songs inside of him.

Taking their inspiration from The Jam, The Clash, and even the Replacements, former law student Rogers and the band have been running full-tilt towards rock and roll stardom since 1989. Discovered in 1993 at Austrailia's version of Lollapalooza by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo (who produced the band's debut Sound As Ever), the band has consistently won new fans ever since and is probably Austrailia's most respected rock band at this point. With the band's ferocious jagged-guitar-riff pop and Rogers straining vocals winning the world over, You Am I have only had one mis-step: the misjudged album Deliverance . As the band has managed to do with all their albums, Deliverance was another change-up in the group's sound, one their audience decided not to accept. While the group have laid low for most of the past four years, Rogers put out two solo albums with his side band Temperance Union. Thankfully, he has reconvened You Am I for what should be their best album yet.

Convicts , for the most part, is a welcome return to the simpler rock of their debut. Short, snappy punk-pop that will appeal to their long-time fans yet catchy and melodic enough to keep gathering new disciples, and possibly some radio play. Although, as you and I both know. radio seldom ends up playing music with any real substance, a quality of which Rogers' songs have always had plenty. But, in a word, this new album RAWKS. Possibly the most amazing thing about this disc is how much energey and spunk the music has, especially since the band is quickly appraoching its' twenty-year anniversary. That You Am I is still able to convey the brash, bristling tones of The Clash (the lead-off rocker "Thank God, I've Hit The Bottom") without sounding like poseurs, shows how vital they still are. Most bands would give their lead guitarist up to sound like they were twenty year olds again while You Am I keeps sounding as fresh and rough-and-tumble as the early Replacements ("It Ain't Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore") and doing it without breaking a sweat.

This album will appeal to anyone who appreciates a little danger with their rock and roll. Old fans of You Am I will not be disappointed and newbies to the band need to check this out. While not groundbreaking sonically or conceptually, this is the sort of energetic rock that inspires people to pick up guitars and try to change the world. Give it a shot!

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