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Rootsy Arena-Rock Goes for Broke

The Australian band You Am I takes another shot at long-deserved U.S. success.
The Australian band You Am I takes another shot at long-deserved U.S. success.

Despite its success in its native Australia over the last decade and a half, You Am I has never made a dent in the U.S. But a rough psychological profile of the new Convicts suggests that other issues besides a failure to break through may explain the four-year delay since the band's last album, 2003's Deliverance.

That should be clear enough in the way the album kicks off with "Thank God I've Hit the Bottom" and closes with "I'm a Mess." But it comes through in subtler ways, as well, as "Thuggery" finds You Am I building on the rootsy arena-rock of Deliverance and adding a degree of chaotic, go-for-broke raggedness reminiscent of The Replacements.

The acoustic rockabilly figure at the top of "Thuggery" sets the song's tone, which holds steady even when the band shows up with the sudden inertia of a dropped boulder. But it's a short walk from the Mississippi to Merseybeat, as drummer Russell Hopkinson pounds out a swinging cut-time rhythm and staccato guitar slashes slowly swell to fill the space.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.