Payola - Challenger 7

Label:Tomboy Records/1+2 Records
Highlights:Rats In A Maze
Believe In Me
Rock 'N' Roll Sound

Rating: 9/10

Payola is the debut album for Sydney's Challenger 7, which has been worth waiting 6 years for. With the airwaves saturated with all this slick, overproduced rap-metal, it's a relief to finally hear a good, honest rock album that isn't afraid to be melodic. Challenger 7 play guitar driven power pop, similar to the Replacements and You Am I but with a harder 'Detroit' rock edge courtesy of new guitarist, Stewart 'Leadfinger' Cunningham, who has reinvigorated the band. Not only is his guitar playing inspiring but he also contributes five songs of his own, including the power pop anthem, Rock And Roll Sound;

You get home from work
You put on a record
What do you hear?
The guitars are sweet and the stereo is loud
Nothing beats that rock 'n' roll sound

Ian Underwood and Leadfinger complement each other so well it's as they were destined to play together. However, it's Ian's songs that are the main focus. Brutally honest, the title track Payola is close to the best song he has ever written. Its personal lyrics and hard hitting power chords set the agenda for the rest of the album. Other noteworthy songs include Rats In A Maze, Believe In Me, Candlabra and the touching Sunshower, which despite being over 6 minutes long, never loses its focus. Tucked away at the end, Bower Bird, contains some really nice and unexpected slide guitar. In short, Payola is a great album that gets better with every listen, which undoubtably is a sign of a classic record.

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