Guy Sebastian - Madness (Sony)
Guy Sebastian is the undisputed king of Australian pop.
Having carved out a decade-long career including eight albums and great inroads into the tough US market, Sebastian is at the peak of his powers and it shines through on Madness.
Sebastian, a dad of two, has always been a bouyant songwriter (Like A Drum, Come Home With Me) and his obvious personal happiness shines through on this record, most notably on the uplifting folk-pop of Alive.
But any good pop artist needs to deliver heartbreak with the happiness. Seb gets emotive on the organic Imagine The Sunrise and the break-up tune One Of Us.
Lupe Fiasco rejoins Guy — the duo had a smash with Battle Scars — for standout Linger with rappers a strong feature of Madness (Jay-Z soundalike 2Chainz and Sage The Gemini also appear on strong US-influenced efforts).
Lightning with Fatai showcases more R&B stylings in a throwback to Guy’s early career as does single-bound Elephant.
RATING: ★★★★ IN SHORT: Rhythm & hues
Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways (Sony)
SO is this a new Foo Fighters’ record or simply an musical accompaniment to Dave Grohl’s TV doco series?
The skinny eight tracks lean towards the latter.
While it seems somewhat of a teaser for FF fans, Sonic Highways is actually expansive with tunes clocking in at an average of 5½ minutes each.
To fill in the album’s story, each of Sonic Highways’ tracks were recorded in a different US city with the matching episode of the TV show detailing that city’s musical history, eg: the country scene in Nashville and Chicago’s legendary blues.
Opener Something For Nothing, influenced by and recorded in Chicago, is gruff and hypnotic while The Feast And The Famine is a punk-edged but classic FF borne from Grohl's hometown of Washington DC.
What Did I Do?/God As My Witness is the CD’s epic centrepiece, inspired by Austin, Texas and In The Clear features, strangely, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
RATING: ★★★½ IN SHORT: Road trippin'
Marlisa - Marlisa (Sony)
SORRY Marlisa, you cost yourself a whole extra star in the rating because of track 5.
Let It Go.
The parental equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard.
Frozen fractals aside, the 2014 X-Factor winner is on a winner here with her debut ‘journey’ album.
For the record, the 15-year-old’s Let It Go is strong, while a gentle take on Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters showcases a dexterity in the young star.
Winner’s single Stand By You is a triumphant pop song which is still hovering mid-top 10 on the singles charts.
She takes on some big songs and big artists here and doesn’t quite get there on Pink’s Try but mimics Sia effectively on the David Guetta collab Titanium.
Elsewhere there’s some sugary moments (Hopelessly Devoted To You) and some times (Girl On Fire, Impossible) when you’re certain Marlisa will be a force to be reckoned with.
RATING: ★★★ IN SHORT: Teen spirit