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Sam Roberts, Chemical City

After walking away with three Juno Awards for his 2003 sophomore release We Were Born in a Flame, the Sam Roberts Band took off for sunny-day Australia to collaborate on his third disc, Chemical City. In between surfing sessions, the band couldn’t help but be influenced by their immediate, wide-open surroundings. Tracks like first single “The Gate,” the psychedelic “Mind Flood,” and “With A Bullet” all have a very loose, earthy, live sound to them. This jam-band vibe is even more effective in their use of keyboards, which helps facilitate and manipulate the feel and tempo of the entire album. Thankfully, Roberts and co. returned to Montreal to finish and piece together their musical ideas, which probably helped make Chemical City a more consistent rock record. Although fans that enjoyed the poppier sides of Roberts (as in “Brother Down” or “Don’t Walk Away Eileen”) will not find immediate satisfaction in Roberts’ latest album — but with more than a few listens Chemical City will reveal a deep collection of melodic rock jams, which strangely ends with the bleak piano ballad “A Stone Would Cry Out.” (Universal Music Canada)

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