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Jailbirds - 'The Great Escape' Album Review


1. The Great Escape

2. Loose Cannon

3. Nothing Good Lasts Forever

4. Shadow Of Love

5. Thrill Of The Chase

6. Underdog

7. The Pilot

8. Fight Or Flight

There is something very distinguishable about Australian bands, with something like the rawness of a dingo’s backside and something equally recognisable about Irish bands with the ever-present air of their subtle and whimsical Celtic musical roots but with the angst of religious and cultural division. Well, with Jailbirds you get a mix of both. Imagine a strong Australian lager chased down with a beautifully blended smooth Irish whiskey, with that afterburn of heat and you’re some way to getting a taste of this outstanding rock outfit.

‘The Great Escape’ is the bands debut album, which follows their 2016 EP release, ‘Break The Silence’ and displays all the confidence of a band that knows their stuff. Yes, it's a Rock/Hard rock record and one that easily sits in that genre of music that sometimes is guilty of cliché guitar solos and screaming vocals. Of course, you would expect some of that but Jailbirds ‘escape’, as the album title suggests, the more obvious pitfalls and trapdoors of churning out the same old, same old.

There have been some comparisons to AC/DC and Thin Lizzy to emphasise the Sydney/Dublin connections the band’s members have and Foo Fighters get a mention too. I wouldn’t disagree that there are hints of all three in some of the songs but to get a real sense of the band’s sound I was struck by the similarity to Melbourne rockers Jet. This is no bad thing as Jet have been one of Australia’s greatest exponents of the genre in recent years, and both bands have brothers fronting and drumming, a connection that creates a rhythmic symbiotic core.

But it would be disingenuous to assume that Jailbirds are simply mimicking something that has been done before. Yes, songs like ‘Thrill Of The Chase’, ‘Underdog’, ‘Loose Cannon’ and ‘Shadow Of Love’ from frontman Axel McDonald uncannily have the vocal sound of Nic Cester, which is not surprising given that familiar Aussie drawl that resonates so loudly? McDonald delivers just the right amount of growl and rawness to give the songs an edgy and dynamic drive and an individuality that stands him out as a fine vocalist and front man.

Axel McDonald is also an excellent guitar player and with brother Jay on drums they provide the Aussie brashness that compliments the equally superb but understated guitar of Ed Orr and bass of Jamie Trimble, who complete the line-up.

Single, ‘Nothing Good Lasts Forever’, is a strong choice to give a window into the album, which is full of hooks. It has more than a passing nod to Foo Fighters and if you’re a fan of ‘The Foos’, then this will not disappoint you. It has everything that any self-respecting rocker would want. Likewise, opener and title track ‘The Great Escape’ puts on the afterburners and roars through the speakers in a way that Butch Vig himself would no doubt approve.

‘The Great Escape’ is an expressive and powerful album, full of rock gems and is a record I would highly recommend. I’m off for another listen and just hope there’s some XXXX in the fridge.

Review - Mark Welby Johnson

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