The Re-Mains Courage...and Shuffle the Cards

Billed as Australia's best country-rock band, the Re-Mains are clearly committed to conquering Canada too. They're now touring here for the third time, and this compilation is designed to accompany their Western tour. It features six tracks recorded a couple of years ago, rounded out by six songs recorded live Down Under, from 2004 to 2006. The band's line-up has changed significantly since then, but their leader (singer/songwriter/guitarist Mick Daley) has remained a constant. He's a genuine talent, impressing both as a lyricist and vocalist. He isn't afraid to stretch things out (three songs are in the six- to eight-minute range), yet never over-reaches. "Black Aspirin" has a Drive-By Truckers-like energy and "Pumulwuy" tackles a dark episode in Australian history (the killing of the titular Aboriginal warrior) with eloquence, while raucous closer "Hot Blood" shows they must deliver high-octane shows. Roots-oriented Australian artists (think Weddings Parties Anything, Paul Kelly, the Waifs) seem incapable of artifice or pretension, and the Re-Mains clearly belong in that camp. Call these Cards a winning hand. (Country Rock n Roll)