Russell Baillie is the Herald’s entertainment editor

The Bads - So Alive

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Rating: * * * *

Possibly the Bads doth complain too much - on their song Irritainment, they target modern television over a spot of ye olde pub rock guitar chug. But the title track to this has already had prime-time exposure via Hunger for the Wild, one of those shows attempting to make celebrity chefs out of a couple of Wellington restaurateurs not quite up to the job description.

Oh well. That song is about the only misstep on this, the second album under the Bads moniker by partners Dianne Swann and Bret Adams.

The Bads' record from 2005 first caught them grappling with stylistic issues, trying to reconcile their pop and rock pasts with a growing enthusiasm for alt-country. This one is a far more relaxed, cohesive affair which lets the songs breathe with rustic charm and fine tunes. And that's right from the title track which opens this, while, thankfully, evoking something more than whitebait fritters.

Elsewhere, with Adams briefly taking the lead vocal they head boldly into Wilco territory on Drop in the Ocean and deliver deft duets on both the rollicking country rock Gracious and the twangin' tale of woe Helensville, while Swann's solo voice gives this a lovely line in heart-bruised ballads like of Baby Come Home, Valid State of Mine and the closing Floodgates.

Yes here, the Bads deliver the goods.

Russell Baillie




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Russell Baillie is the Herald’s entertainment editor

Russell Baillie has been writing about entertainment since shortly after entertainment was invented. His first music review was of five whalers singing around a piano which got him run out of the town of his upbringing, Whangarei. Along the way he discovered writing about moving pictures with sound was just as rewarding as his coverage of gramophone products and musical ensembles. Eventually he found a home at the Herald, as the founding editor of the TImeOut section, where has won prizes for editing, reviewing and feature writing.

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