[6 April 2009]
Stand Up the debut album by Melbourne roots act Blue King Brown, shot them quickly into the national consciousness back home in Australia. The album was first released in October 2006, and since then their singles “Water” and “Come and Check Your Head” have become ubiquitous. The main songwriters Carlo Santone and Natalie Pa’apa’a, ex-street performers, have that nothing-to-lose bravado; but their songs, in the long shadow of the Cat Empire, Bob Marley, and Dispatch, play as amateurish if good-natured imitation. Their ska/roots/reggae sound may be sufficiently vivacious to propel a live audience into hazy whirls of enjoyment; in the sterile light of an early morning, two and a half years later, there’s little that remains fresh or exciting. Roots music is fun to listen to, but its formulas, all these years after Brushfire Fairytales and Three, are recognizable and staid. The group’s ‘Stand up and fight’ politics, in line with artists like John Butler or Michael Franti, are no doubt heartfelt but, again, sound like the clamouring of a guy, on a milk crate, on the side of the street.