21
Oct
09

Album Review: Jet – ‘Shaka Rock’

Jet were one of the many bands that exploded on the scene while I was in varsity, and as such I missed their first two albums because I was drunk, but I caught one or two of their singles being blasted over speakers in bars and clubs everywhere.

 

Chris Cester, Cam Muncey, Mark Wilson and frontman Nick Cester

Chris Cester, Cam Muncey, Mark Wilson and frontman Nick Cester

 

“I said one , two, three take my hand and come with me because you look so fine and I really want to make you mine” – yeah, Jet are those guys.

They hail from Melbourne, Australia and have been known, from time to time to find a sheep in the long grass very, very nice thank you.

The band is Nick Cester (vocals, guitar), his brother Chris Cester (drums, percussion, vocals), Nick’s highschool buddy Cam Muncey (lead guitar, vocals) and Mark Wilson (bass).

Their first album, ‘Get Born’ (2003) soared in the charts and generally everyone seemed to dig it, especially the Auzzies who bought enough copies to certify the album as Platinum no less than eight fucking times (ie. 8 million albums sold). That’s the album that featured ‘Are you gonna be my girl?’ (see lyrics above).

They enlisted producer Dave Sardy to work with the band on ‘Get Born’ and the 2006 follow up, ‘Shine On’. Sardy has worked with bands like the Black Angels, Bush, The Dandy Warhols, Marilyn Manson, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wolfmother.

That’s just to name a few, this guy has literally worked with everyone, which makes it difficult to pin down exactly what kind sound he brings to an album.

‘Shine On’ was apparently a bit of a letdown. From what I gather the album had a really subdued sound due largely to the fact that at the height of the band’s international success in August 2004, Nick and Chris lost their father, John Cester, to cancer.

But now they’re back, guns blazin’ for their third studio album, ‘Shaka Rock’ which they released in August.

 

Shaka Rock - no idea what it means, but hey, the cover's pretty rad

Shaka Rock - no idea what it means, but hey, the cover's pretty rad

 

The album is produced by Chris ‘Frenchie’ Smith, whose previous projects include nothing you’ve probably heard of except possibly his work with the band Lost Bayou Ramblers, for which he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Zydeco/Cajun Music  (whaaaaat?).

In an interview I watched on their myspace site, they said they co-produced this one with Frenchie, but personally, I think the band produced this album largely themselves.

I got wind of it when I heard the single ‘She’s a Genius’ played on radio about a week ago. The song hooked me instantly and had me air drumming like nobody’s business as I drove through the rush hour traffic.

It’s good ol’ fashioned ‘revivalist rock’ as it’s known, which can best be described in the following way:

First there were bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, AC/DC, The Doors and The Rolling Stones.

Then came round two with bands like Supergrass, Oasis, The Verve and a lot of others I’m forgetting.

Round three hit in early 2000 with the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Strokes, The Hives, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kasabian, The Subways, and the Heartless Bastards.

 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - similar to Jet, only better (don't let the bad hair fool you)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - similar to Jet, only better (don't let the bad hair fool you)

 

Jet fits comfortably among these bands. Theirs is an infectious, high-energy, big hook, jangly tambourine brand of rock and roll, punctuated by Cester’s powerful, screeching vocals.

If you’re not already sick of the revivalist rock sound, you’ll enjoy this album. You could successfully play it at a party and chances are it would get to at least track six before someone hijacked the playlist.

A good album is one that has at least three tracks that you really like on it, and ‘Shaka Rock’ is an album that will adhere to this rule.

The opening track, ‘K.I.A’ is a pretty standard, powerchord-driven rock anthem, track 2 ‘Beat on Repeat’ flirts with a disco-rock flavour that works but is a little laughably self-indulgent.

‘She’s a Genius,’ (track 3) can’t be faulted, it’s an instantly-likeable, sexy, upbeat track that will stick like a pair of clammy panties to the bedroom wall of your mind.

From there the album slowly starts to lose its way, track 4 ‘Black Hearts (On Fire)’ – couldn’t be more Rolling Stonesey if it tried (except the chorous, which sounds distinctly INXS).

The piano influence on “Seventeen” works, but doesn’t really save the song from sounding like it could have been written by any number of bands.

I liked ‘Walk’ because of the interesting tempo change that saves an otherwise mediocre song and ‘Start the Show’ has some cool moments, but basically everything after track 5 starts to get really tired really fast.

“Let me out” starts off sounding a little like the Chesney Hawkes abortion of a song “I am the one and only” and doesn’t get much better and “Goodbye Hollywood” has a chorous that sounds like it was stolen straight from The Beatles and is just plain irritating.

 

If you sound or look ANYTHING like this man/woman, kill yourself now

If you sound or look ANYTHING like this man/woman, kill yourself now

 

Critics don’t seem to like the album much though, here are some pearls I found online from other reviews of ‘Shaka Rock’.

David Peisner from Spin wrote, “Jet’s third album, just like their second, is stuffed with swaggering, anthemic rock that you’ll swear someone else already wrote, which rarely compromises its appeal… and one can only assume the reggae-rock abomination ‘Beat on Repeat’ was a misguided effort to branch out.” 
(http://www.spin.com/reviews/jet-shaka-rock-real-horrorshowfive-seven)

August Brown, blogger for the LA Times wrote, “With ‘Seventeen,’ (track 5) Kings of Leon finally has real competition in codpiece-rock lechery circles.”
(http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2009/08/album-review-jets-shaka-rock.html)

That gave me a good chuckle, as did the following comment from Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield, “[Jet is] back with another dull slog through the AC/DC catalog… The only song that delivers any fun is “She’s a Genius,” which praises the intellectual discernment of their lady friends. It deserves to inspire a reality show: Are You Smarter Than a Jet Groupie?”
(http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/29497592/review/29716110/shaka_rock)

So there you have it, they have good things to say about the album as well, I’d recommend clicking the links to get a better idea of ‘Shaka Rock’.

What it all boils down to is that provided you’re not looking for a particularly original or thought provoking take on what a hundred other bands are doing right now, you won’t be disappointed by ‘Shaka Rock’.

The rest of us will tire of this album quickly though and I can say from experience that after the fifth or sixth listen, the album already starts to lose its charm.

Overall verdict: 6/10

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