Roots/soul/funk band The Near Earth Objects (The NEO) have released their third, self-titled album on Powerfunk Records. Lead vocalist Tim Sinclair has described it as a collection of stories from five years of touring experience. Despite the Darwin band's obvious chops, however, the The NEO's stories have often been told much better by artists in the past.

Genre music is always a tricky one to record. Bands attempt to take sounds that they like, and appropriate them into their own music. Unfortunately, the sounds The NEO have chosen don't combine well to create a new, strong identity for the band.

Recorded in Byron Bay's 301 Studios, and mixed by Robin Mai, The NEO haven't hidden their John Butler influence. Their funky rap-rock on tracks like 'Working On Your Mojo' recalls other Australian bands who have also dabbled in live aussie-rap, namely The Cat Empire, and Smiling At Strangers-era TZU.

Thematically, songs like 'Get Back Up' have been already recorded by bands like Butterfingers before, with their track 'Get Up Outta The Dirt'. 'White Dress' is likewise focused too narrowly, essentially taking The Commodores 'Brick House' and changing the signifier. If 'Brick House' was built on the funk, then 'White Dress' was built on the sand of songs that don't live up to their influences.

While the songwriting on tracks like 'I Like Your Style' falls suspiciously prey to similar influences, like War's 'Why Can't We Be Friends?', the energy and riffs are all there. 'Red Light' channels a Police-y reggae vibe, and has more poetic songwriting than the instructional 'Come Down'. 'Loving Woman' is then goofy and dorky, but loveable in the way that old track pants are.

'Marrtjina (Let's Go)' is a highlight, largely because it's not sung in english, and so is the closing track, a Nicky Bomba-influenced mento tune about sea pirates. Like many of the other tracks on this album, it's a great jam, and would be very fun live.

Near Earth Objects is cheesy, but occasionally, it's cheese right where you want it. When they don't come off as a blues band playing Wiggles songs, The NEO are just an extremely fun jam band. They obviously enjoy the music they play, and hopefully translate this infectiousness into their live shows.

Listen to the first track off the album, 'Your Time', below:


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