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Jet - Shaka Rock

2009-09-21 16:28
Shaka Rock
The problem with the later is, once your singles are off the radio and your videos have stopped rotating on MTV, the cold hard truth is, you become disposable.

The whole way through Shaka Rock, Jet's third full length, I couldn't get "Goodbye Hollywood," out of my mind. "I know that riff," I thought. It bugged me for days. Then it hit me. "Place Your Hands," by English rock band Reef. Well, almost. And that's the problem. Every song, you'll be thinking: Rolling Stones, Stone Roses, The Kinks, INXS, AC/DC, Reef.... But you knew that already.

"Lighten up," you say. Shaka Rock is a lighthearted and fun, pop rock take on classic rock 'n roll not meant for over-analysis. But even the lyrics have been done before. Take "Seventeen," for example. Every great rock band's got a song called "Seventeen," right? From Smashing Pumpkins and Kings of Leon, to Mandy Moore and Jet. Welcome to the club. I'm sure you enjoyed… the ride.

The strange thing is, backed by a more modern sounding, feelgood piano line, "Seventeen" is my favourite track. The one that seems to break through and not sound like anyone else. On "Seventeen," 30-year-old singer, Nic Cester, doesn't sound like he's doing his favourite rock star impression. But according to the all stories of groupies, severed fingers, drug binges and fractured relationships, it's all true. Jet don't just play old-fashioned rock 'n roll, they live and breathe it. Or at least, they used to. On "Goodbye Hollywood," Cester lets it all hang out, referencing Jet’s breakout success and his decision to head back home, licking his wounds and seeking a sense of normality:

"Life can build you up just to knock you down/It takes a lot more than red to paint this town/I never needed anyone, until I crashed into the sun/Goodbye Hollywood, it just don’t fit me like it should."

The telltale sign for Jet is, on the back of a global iPod ad, their 2003 debut, Get Born, sold around four million copies. On the back of a critical backlash (and that Pitchfork "review"), their 2006 follow up, Shine On, sold a quarter of that. Still, a lot of bands would kill to sell a million albums.

For all their tales of rock excess, meltdowns and "moving away from their influences," overall, Shaka Rock’s a surprisingly tame, predictable and boring sounding album. Good for fifteen minutes of fun. I just wonder where they got the album name from. The Dolphin Coast?

Some bands dig as deep as they can, hoping to find that elusive pot of gold that makes them shine the brightest. They go out of their way trying to reinvent themselves and break new ground. Others, like Australian rockers, Jet, are happier churning out fun rehashes of old fashioned rock 'n roll songs you've heard a million times before.

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