CD reviews

Artist: Guy Sebastian

Title: Armageddon (Sony)

Genre: Pop

Rating: ★★★★½

In short: Wise Guy

GUY Sebastian is killing it at the moment.

Fresh off his latest No.1 single (and US hit) Battle Scars with rapper Lupe Fiasco, Sebastian has delivered arguably his most complete album to date.

Armageddon truly is mature pop.

But do not fear — it’s not adult contemporary and, more importantly, it’s nothing like the club pop that’s been diseasing our charts.

It is late, however, having been penciled in for a mid-year release.

But that’s also forgiven early with the opening duo, Amnesia and Beg, the latter a swirling mid-tempo effort destined to be a live favourite.

The pop hit Don’t Worry Be Happy is given an organic rework and the inspiring Get Along is a lyrical triumph for the X-Factor mentor.

If you’re a parent, Big Bad World, written for son Hudson, is something you’ll truly relate to. Really lovely.

And Keeper, a ragga-pop effort, will be a summer single.

Artist: Grinspoon

Title: Black Rabbits (Universal)

Genre: Rock

Rating: ★★★½

In short: Revived

YOU sorta know from the opening track of Black Rabbits, that Grinspoon, and more importantly, Phil Jamieson, are firing on all cylinders again.

Jamieson has had his well-documented share of substance issues but the 35-year-old singer seems as sharp as ever on Passerby — the CD’s memorable lead single and a great indicator of what’s to come.

With the demise of several high-profile Aussie rock acts, it’s obvious we still need Grinspoon.

Black Rabbits harks back to retro pub rock before swooping pointedly back to more modern fare. It’s catchy, it’s poignant, it’s melodic.

Final Reward benefits from a rousing chorus and a crazyily nice bassline-riff combo while Beaujolais is quite different for these guys — it’s almost a Brit-pop anthem.

Emergency is classic pacy Grinners while Branded is the sort of guitar pop that begs for a single release.

Artist: Kiss

Title: Monster (Universal)

Genre: Rock

Rating: ★★★½

In short: Ingrained

KISS and evolved — you don’t wanna see those words in the same sentence.

Thankfully, neither do Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

Forget a foray into dubstep or R&B, The Demon and The Starchild know how to do one thing only — rock ‘n’ roll.

As such Monster, the legendary band’s 20th studio record, doesn’t stray — it’s straight-up, retro-flavoured anthems-upon-anthems.

And with titles such as All For The Love Of Rock & Roll, Wall Of Sound and The Devil Is Me, how can you not love blokes in their 60’s rocking like it’s 1989?

Guitarist Tommy Thayer comes up trumps riff-wise, especially on Hell Or Hallelujah and Back To The Stone Age. Fans will devour these.

The versatile Thayer even takes lead vocals on Outta This World while Eat Your Heart Out is a must for nostalgia’s sake.

Nothing new to see here, folks, and that’s good news!

Artist: No Doubt

Title: Push and Shove (Universal)

Genre: Rock/pop

Rating: ★★★

In short: Doubtful

ARE No Doubt still relevant?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of the Orange County ska-sters.

But with an extended stint on the sidelines while Gwen Stefani released two highly-successful solo pop records, the question begs to be asked.

There is a tinge of nostalgia here on Push and Shove, but circa 2012 No Doubt don’t sound as dated as you’d think.

It is hard sometimes, however, to separate No Doubt front-woman Gwen from solo pop superstar Gwen.

Take Looking Hot for example, a vibrant pop tune destined for chart action. It kicks Katy Perry’s ass, to be honest.

Aside from the overly long lead-single opener, Settle Down, Push and Shove has some great moments: the title track is a power-packed rock-ragga combo; One More Summer is synth-paced 80’s pop.

Easy is a nice ballad, but it’s no Don’t Speak.

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