Once upon a time, the John Butler Trio was one of my absolute favourite bands. This was before their breakthrough record, Sunrise Over Sea (2004). Nowadays, well, their output is just not in the same league as it was before. April Uprising is simply not important. It’s not original, or interesting, or all that enjoyable. It’s made up of about 7 mediocre, uninteresting tracks, accompanied with a handful that are absolutely horrible and cringe-worthy, and two or three that are a breath of fresh air amongst this record of mediocrity. All in all, the whole record just isn’t John Butler – the long acoustic guitar solos are replaced with typical electric guitar, the vicious, hate-filled, chastising lyrics are replaced with love songs and a few terrible attempts at being political, no longer are there any weed references.
As I said, most of the tracks just aren’t very good, to put it simply. “I’d Do Anything”, “Close To You”, “Ragged Mile”, etc, etc. They’re boring, and it really is a little sad to see the once great John Butler write such average songs, when he once could write the likes of “Take”, “Money”, and “Crazy”. But, if you want to get the whole way through April Uprising, you have to be prepared for some huge stinkers. “C’mon Now” is a poor, poor attempt at god-knows-what, which invoked numerous facepalms the first time I heard it. Same goes for “Johnny’s Gone”, a pathetic shot at ex-Prime Minister John Howard. It’s hard to believe that the same man wrote such brilliant anti-Howard songs earlier on in his career, and how he’s sunk to this.
I’ll give it some credit however. “Take Me” is quite a cool, slow, guitar-driven piece, showcasing Butler’s developing use of electric guitar. It shows that Butler really can play the guitar when it’s solid, it’s just unfortunate that he can’t play like this on every track. “To Look Like You” is a break from the constant stream of love songs on April Uprising – a dark, depressing tale from a teenage girl’s perspective, of how it is to look up to false idols from magazines. I mean, I can’t really judge, but he seems to get the emotions perfect.
Apart from these two, and maybe (possibly) “Revolution”, the record is made up of either bland, boring, repetitive tracks, or absolutely horrible, cringe-worthy songs. April Uprising is really just a boring effort from a washed up artist, which shows specks of brilliance that are, sadly, hidden amongst all the mediocrity.
Choice tracks: Revolution; Take Me; To Be Like You
If you like: Grand National; late Jack Johnson; Donavon Frankenreiter