Title:And Other Stories
Band:Jack & The Beanstalk
Labels:Spinning Top / Parasol Records
Angeline (Mad About Sally)
10, 000 Sunny Days
(I Want To Be Like) Ray Davies

Jack & The Beanstalk's debut album, And Other Stories, not only fulfills the potential they showed with their debut 7 Inch, Gram Parsons (which was only demos) but easily exceeds it. And Other Stories is textbook Australian power pop that is just not full of loud power chords and catchy choruses, as the opening three tracks; Doggy, Amnesia and in particular Angeline (Mad About Sally) would attest. Take a listen to the wonderfully joyful 10, 000 Sunny Days, the sad folk-rock of Star or the Kinky (I Want To Be Like) Ray Davies and you'll see there is more depth to this album that one might initially expect. This is topped off by Joe Algeri's truly magnificent voice to create an album that both fans of rocking and jangly power pop will love.

Title:Cowboys In Sweden
Band:Jack & The Beanstalk
Label:Parasol Records
Highlights:Raspberry Jam
Heard It All Before

Despite the rushed recording, (due to the Joe Algeri's relocation to Sweden halfway through recording) Jack And The Beanstalk have finally released their second album, Cowboys In Sweden, some 5 years after their well received debut, And other Stories. While Cowboys In Sweden contains several fun power pop tracks like Raspberry Jam (a tribute to the Rasberries), She Drives A Volvo and the upbeat Baby! the best part of the album finds the band branching out and exploring Joe's fondness for country/roots influenced music while still retaining their pop sensibilities. Importantly there is a warmth and honesty to the songs that so often gets lost in the studio in the pursuit of radio airplay.

As an added bonus, there are also three live tracks recorded live in the studio including their debut single Gram Parsons (renamed GP 2000) and their cover of the Dictators Who Will Save Rock n Roll.

Title:Sound Of Lies
Band:The Jayhawks (USA)
Label:American Records
It's Up To You
Dying On The Vine
Sound Of Lies

The fact that the Jayhawks ever got around to recording Sound Of Lies, their fourth album after the critically acclaimed Tomorrow The Green Grass, is somewhat of a miracle. Not only did principle songwriter Mark Olson leave the band to launch a solo career but co-leader Gary Louris also split from his wife at the same time. Not surprisingly, the large majority of Sound Of Lies deals with this sad and turbulent period of Louris's life.

Those who were expecting a repeat of gorgeous sounds of their last album will be quite surprised in the new direction that the Jayhawks have taken, as evidenced by the day-glo, pop art and semi-psychedelic cover. Gone is the standard Alt. Country / roots sound, which has been replaced by a darker, more sombre sound with the exception of the upbeat, almost pop song Big Star (not about the band but actually being one). Moving away from the standard verse-chorus-verse song structure, Sound Of Lies finds the Jayhawks introducing more instrumental breaks into their sound. Acidic, fuzz-laced guitar solos and throbbing basses have replaced the pedal steel guitars to form an integral part of the Jayhawks sound, as best demonstrated by Haywire and Dying On The Vine. Thankfully, however, they haven't lost their talent for beautiful and touching harmonies. Sound Of Lies is a landmark recording that finds the Jayhawks successfully reinventing their country rock image.

Title:Everything Under The Sun
Artist:Joe Algeri
Label:Egomaniac Music
Torpedo Records
Parasol Records
The Airport Song
Apricot Girl
Trucking Jesus

This is Joe Algeri's first solo CD release, after a series of cassette releases and is a mixture of old and new material. As evidenced by this set of songs, Joe has a sensitive side that is usually kept hidden under the loud and rocking exterior of his other band, Jack & The Beanstalk. Everything Under The Sun is a wonderful mixture of acoustic pop, folk rock and country sounds. The majority of the songs (especially the new ones) seem to be written about being separated from his girlfriend and as such the domineering mood is downbeat and sad, such as in Lonely With A Smile, The Airport Song and the brilliant Awkward. However this isn't the mood of the entire album with other tracks like Apricot Girl and After The Rain providing welcome relief in their upbeat and joyous nature. Along with the strong but simple arrangements, the best thing about this album is Joe's gifted ability as a singer. His voice gives Everthing Under The Sun a warm, honest and intimate feel without sounding pretentious. One word of advice, don't let the front cover turn you off!