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The Vines / Jet

Get Down With The Down Under

They're Australian for Rock. The Vines climbed their way into the public consciousness in 2002, with the momentous Highly Evolved, a rollicking album filled with tuneful tracks and rock out anthems ("Outtathaway" anyone?) with mosh-appeal. The timing was right: Rock was Alive, "The" was every group's new favorite article of choice, and MTV was looking for a few good bands for their West Side Story goes Jam-off awards show number.

Now, two years later, the Vines are back with a new release, Winning Days, and are asking audiences to take them back. The in-focus face of the band, lead singer Craig Nicholls, has made a name for The Vines by misbehaving. Whether he's perfecting the art of interview angst or earning the distinction of shocking David Letterman by systematically destroying his set with a you- killed-my-puppy tenacity, Nicholls is every bit the diva. But rock star cliché tendencies and a Cobain-esque coiffure does not a sophomore album make. Nay-sayers claim the Vines have reached their expiration date, but no less than SPIN's doctors felt their second coming merited a cover. Only time will tell if the Vines have what it takes to make it through the sophomore album gauntlet. They approach the challenge with a "peace not war" 60's sound, possibly infused by the locale in which it was recorded- none other than Woodstock, NY. In the meantime, the band's ability to straddle styles ranging from the newly bittersweet "Rainfall" to the grittiest throat squelcher is reason enough to catch the Sydney foursome live, while carousing their way through town for the west coast leg of the Aussie Invasion tour.

Joining the Aussie posse, is the Melbourne garage rock quartet Jet. They may have second billing this time around, but chances are we're not looking at a "with them as always is Garth" situation. Just this side of the next big thing, Jet's acclaim has been growing since their EP The Dirty Sweet sold out across Australia. Their debut album Get Born was getting attention even before it hit record stores last October, due in part to a bidding war over the band that rivaled even the cattiest of Bachelor contestant skirmishes. Since saying "I Do" to Elektra, Jet's been busy living up to their hype, channeling influences ranging from The Rolling Stones (who they opened for on the LICKS World tour), to Iggy Pop, The Kinks, Oasis, AC /DC and the Beatles. Taking their name from a song off of Paul McCartney's Band on the Run, one need only hear the opening strains of the tambourine shaking "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" to discern that these rock-stars-in-training have taken the basics to heart. Incorporating cues from their predecessors in a way that pays homage while creating a sound that's distinctly their own, Jet distinguishes themselves from the rest of the bands in the "if you like the White Stripes then you'll love (blank)" pool.