5. You Am I – Convicts

For a band renowned for being a great rock band, it could be argued that they haven’t really rocked out in years. So after a break, You Am I release an album that’s almost nothing but rockers, with some of their shortest, sharpest, heaviest work. No ballads here. There’s barely a sparkly pop song a la Cathy’s Clown. It’s pedal to the metal.

So are we down to loyalty buying here? Maybe. But more than their last two albums (and the last 30 Tim Rogers solo albums), it’s a record that has actually won them some new fans. And it’s not You Am I reconnecting with a classic sound – it’s the sound of a band playing louder and and angrier than before.

The first track hits you in the face. Under two minutes, Thank God I’ve Hit the Bottom sounds like hardcore punk, frantic screaming and just riff after punishing riff. In fact, it’s like You Am I have rediscovered the love of the riff. Friends Like You and Constance George has two of the best that You Am I have ever done. If there’s one big gripe about this album, it’s that sometimes you miss Rogers the great songcrafter, the man who can write Gasoline For Two and Sugar.

Tim is still pretty much writing about himself. There’s a bit more anger here, as evident in the tongue in cheek album title. Nervous Kid, a driving rocker, is about being picked on as a kid. It’s a theme Rogers has visited time and time again, but it packs so much more punch. Rogers still plays the lovable failure, declaring him and the band “the last gunslingers in town.” The album ends on the charming I’m A Mess (“I know that it’s a crappy excuse”).

I’ve grown up with this band, and something in the core of what they do just agrees with me. But if that was enough for a good record, then Rhett Miller, Golden Smog, Sloan and the Fauves would all be here. This record is a step forward for the band, one that made me more excited about them than I’ve been for a long time. Let’s hope another record comes soon.

Danny Yau

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