Dear Whoever Approved Maroon 5's Bob Marley Cover - It Wasn't A Good Idea

14 June 2018 | 9:52 am | Ross Clelland


Sometimes it just comes down to making a call as to whether something or someone in this popular music thing is simply getting it right or wrong. And by most measures, you’d have to reckon Amy Shark is getting it soooo right. The profile, sales, and incursions into the mainstream all seem on the rise – both here in her homeland and internationally. The soon-coming album will further cement all that. Oh, and the songs. Stuff like Weekend and I Said Hi are smart, and feisty – one might even say “Feist-y” (see what I did there? Oh, never mind…) – and Don’t Turn Around (Wonderlick Entertainment/RCA) adds a layer of apparent honesty in its past relationship regret, without being damn silly or saccharine about it. Quality, intelligent, well put together pop. Should be more of it.

Now, in an interesting twilight zone between what’s been right and what might now be a little wrong, Chemistry (Sonovox) is perhaps ironic in the fact it’s not show much of it. The clip is all neat colour and movement, CGI heads abounding, and the handy hippie-drippy message of inclusion that cats and dogs living in perfect harmony is something for which to strive. But, without looking at the name on the tin, would you have picked the stumbling funk horns of this as Arcade Fire? It almost sounds like a 70s pastiche in parts – particularly when Win drops into an almost spoken word breakdown. And who knows, that may well be exactly what they were after. Me, I’m going to play Keep The Car Running and remembering when they were maybe a bit more self-aware.

Now, it’s so easy to count the wrongs in this. White guys doing reggae covers – hardly ever a good idea, The Clash several decades ago probably being one of the few exceptions to prove the rule. That those white guys in question are Maroon 5 probably underlining just how bankrupt this is. Although of course it’ll get millions of plays, and make millions for them and the Korean car maker – no not that one, the other one - who commissioned it. For reasons that further escape my critical faculties, Three Little Birds (Interscope) is a Bob Marley cover that apparently has some advertising tie-in to The World Cup. OK, sure. Makes as much sense as their quite recent Girls Like You ditty, that somehow managed to convince women you might not have expected such as Ellen DeGeneres, Gal Gadot, Sarah Silverman, Cardi B and several others to appear. I only hope it was for large donations to the charities of their choice.

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Then again, you’re not really gonna go wrong giving the people exactly what they expect of you. Ostensibly, Do The Trash Can (In The Red) is a debut under just his own name for the formerly Bluesly Explosive Jon Spencer, an artist probably still barred from ABC Studios nationwide for havoc recorded live 20 years ago. Yeah, that one you’ve seen it on Rage. Beside the truly great title of this, it revs up and drives straight at you past supportive waves of encouragement from Iggy Pop, The Cramps, and similar other misfit gods. Whoops, hollers, and screeches as you’d expect. Play loud, be threatened with eviction or at least a noise complaint fine instigated by the neighbours.

Finding a new Australian label home marks the end of a couple of years silence from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and the priapic journey of the grandly named Orlando Tobias Edward Higginbottom from classically-trained Oxford musician via time in LA, and even at one point a curious sidetrack to record with Damon Albarn in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. Naturally. Which leads us to Leave A Light On (I Oh You) where its initially moody piano and electronics are offset by occasional outbreaks of cacophony that fit with TEED’s longterm approach of often not taking things entirely too seriously for too long.

Slaves are another returning after a period of silence, and putting some effort into it, as the attendant video of angry aerobics that’s a long way from Olivia Newton John’s Physical suggests. Cut & Run (Girl Fight) remains pretty much in the territory of ‘old’ punk – a frequently discordant racket that overflows into feedback in the accepted manner, cutting and running – see what I did there? Oh, never mind… – before the cardiac arrest occurs somewhere on the second lap on the rowing machine. 

Adjusting their approach as each song demands, Goodnight Japan are one of those probably forever indie bands that will keep doing it for the love of it, and play on community radio stations. Although having a magazine editor and science journalist among the line-up may mean they get coverage in unexpected places - you know, like your budget carrier simcard. Perhaps counter-intuitively, Rush (Independent) falls somewhere in the middle of their shoegaze-to-fuzz pop spectrum. Narrowing it down further, this one has got touches of the muscly end of something like The Go-Betweens canon – which probably sits them comfortably alongside Rolling Blackout CF and that ilk of good #Strayan product.