Label:Liquor Giants (USA)
Label:Rubber Records
East Side Digital Records
Highlights:67 East 2nd Street
An Arm Around You Too
Now That
Everybody's A Genius
Here's To You

The Liquor Giants may well be America's equivalent to You Am I. Indeed lead singer and songwriter Ward Dotson is credited on You Am I's #4 Record. Here is the Liqour Giants second album and is a fine collection of pop songs and upbeat mid-tempo rock 'n' roll that brings to mind such bands as the Replacements and the Kinks. Ward Dotson's nasal voice may not appeal to everyone and at first listen Here may not seem to be anything extra special. However, several listens later hooks begin appearing and the timeless nature of many of the songs becomes evident. Unlike many American power pop bands, The Liquor Giants don't need layers of studio production and they sound all the better for it.

Title:Jubilee Park
Band:Love Me
Label:Antfarm Records
Highlights:Still Within
I Could BeYou
Another Town
The Fence

Rating: 8/10

Jubilee Park, the third album by Sydney's Love Me, sees the band moving away from the predominant alt. country sounds of their previous albums to a broader mix of acoustic pop, folk rock and country influences that is distinctly Australian without being cliched. Although the lap and peddle steel guitars are still prominent, other instruments such as piano, organ and harmonica play a more active role in the band's sound, as heard in the hypnotic opening track, Still Within.

The overall mood of Jubilee Park tends to be downbeat and sad, which by the albums end becomes too much to take in one sitting. The album would have greatly benefited by having one or two more upbeat tracks. Luckily for Love Me, however, they have the advantage of having three distinct singers, which adds variation and stops Jubilee Park from becoming too monotonous. Madeleine King has a lovely high pitch, which contrasts greatly with Mandy Pearson's really deep, distinct and smoky voice. Then there is songwriter Tom Kristensen who sings a couple of songs on his own although unfortunately his voice tends to be the weakest of the three, although his duet with Madeleine King on I Could Be You is one of the album's highlights.

I find myself trying really hard to like Jubilee Park but too often I find myself thinking that the arrangements and harmonies could have been stronger. Subsequently, although Jubilee Park is a strong album from start to finish, it lacks that something special to be a great album.