For the past couple of decades, Joe Algeri has kept mighty busy in the independent music community. Bands such as the Stonemasons, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Britannicas pad his resume, all which have received thumbs up from both fans and critics. The Australian-based singer, songwriter and man of a multitude of instrumentals, also enjoys a successful solo career.
Joe, and Joe alone, is actually the face behind the JAC, making Faux Pas (Egomaniac Records) his most recent solo effort. Hook heavy pop rock, navigated by beams of buzzing guitars and commanding vocals are key elements here. Such a fashion is what Joe has become linked with, and this excellent disc views him operating at his usual attentive level.
It’s no secret Joe is crazy about the Kinks, so I am sure he will take it as a huge compliment when I say his voice and witty lyrics bear more than a passing resemblance to those of the English band’s lead singer Ray Davies. Heck, Joe even penned a song declaring his devotion to the legendary figure called “(I Want To Be Like) Ray Davies” that appeared on Jack and the Beanstalk’s classic …And Other Stories album.
Kinks comparisons aside, Joe really does have his own way of doing things, and accomplishes his mission time after time. Fired by unsinkable energy and a rather cheeky attitude, Faux Pas opens the gates with “I Play All The Instruments,” which humorously tells the tale of posting music online and hoping for a hit single. Speaking of cyberspace, there’s the equally catchy and funny “Future Computers,” while “I Just Want To Be Weird” and “I’m A Glass Of Orange Juice” comfortably combine silly verse with strong arrangements and pleasantly plump melodies.
Subsequent star tracks on the record involve the nagging “Persistent Man,” the super catchy “Time Machine” and “Truly Julie & Terry,” which pays shameless homage to Joe’s Kinks fixation. Standard power pop tactics, stitched of crunchy chords and juicy and jaunty rhythms, topped by a few rough edges that frequently revisit the restless reflexes of the Clash and the Replacements, prompt Faux Pas to be the great album that it is.
As the cherry on the banana split, the package entails a bonus disc, “Drugs, Trucks & Jesus,” which features strictly cover songs that are either collaborations or recorded by Joe himself. Peppered with the heavenly tone of a clarinet and sung in Italian, the Britannicas deliver a righteously ravishing treatment of Lucio Battisti’s “Balla Linda” that was rendered as “Bella Linda” by the Grass Roots, who stormed the charts with the sparkling pop nugget.
Traditional honky tonky is the order of the day on a cracking copy of Slim Dusty’s “Lights On The Hill,” where “Jackson,” which was tackled by a slew of different artists, including the Kingston Trio and Nancy Sinatra, blinks and twinkles with sunny pop sensibilities. A brash and bubbly interpretation of the Nerves’ “When You Find Out” is totally cool, not to neglect a faithfully somber rendition of Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark’s “You Showed Me” that the Turtles netted a big hit single with.
If you’re craving a dosage of homegrown power pop, then Faux Pas is guaranteed to satisfy your hunger. Joe Algeri has long been a favorite of mine, and I can hardly wait to hear his next record!
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