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Australia isn’t exactly a hotbed of modern rock, with perhaps only a handful of bands making the grade. Sick Puppies is perhaps the most high profile example of an Australian band coming good not only in their home country but also making the transition over in America. Syndicate, formerly called The Next back in Oz, has similar ideas, recording this, their debut album, in Los Angeles under the expert eyes and ears of Jeff Blue, Brandon Friesen and Scott Humphrey whilst using Tommy Lee and Matt Sorum’s studios to track and work on the album. The result is an album that although a little overlong at sixteen songs nevertheless adequately displays the potential that the band has. The album is somewhat disjointed-unsurprising when you consider the number of people and studios involved-and the band must ultimately decide which direction to go in. It could easily be into the commercial modern hard rock genre with songs like ‘Don’t Hate On Me’ or the superb ‘Bring It On’, or perhaps the quirkier side of pop with the Fountains of Wayne-like ‘My Mom Hates Me’ or ‘Life’s a Bitch’. Clearly it’s the edgy pop rock that the band is most comfortable with. The Jeff Blue penned ‘Shout’ and ‘All Of My Life’ are standout gems whilst the Diane Warren penned ‘When You Hurt’ is a perfect fit for Greg Agar’s voice. Indeed Agar is ultimately the star of the show, highlighted by his genuinely gifted performance on the piano ballad ‘Don’t Go Falling Apart’. If Syndicate can make the break and throw off the shackles of their native country the future looks extremely bright. They’ve got the talent and the record label but now they need to make some big decisions. One of the bands to watch in 2011.


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