Think back to your childhood; who was your role model or idol? Every person thirty-something and under will always hold a special place in their heart for the 90’s, one of the most changing and innovative times of the millennium. We saw everything from the rise of the internet to the stint of High School massacres. While the Boy Band trend was polluting every major radio station, the Seattle grunge scene was on its demise, and the emo movement was still in full force (Jimmy Eat World, Saetia, Sunny Day Real Estate, etc.), silently sweeping grimy clubs in Washington D.C. to packed arena in L.A., Third Eye blind was on the rise, soon to be one of the most memorable and influential bands of the 90’s.
Saying that Third Eye Blind is the biggest musical influence on me would already be stating the obvious. Of course this review will be full of bias, I grew up listening to this band; they’re here to stay. Unfortunately, the band has a stigma of being a “one hit wonder”, due to the large commercial success of “Semi-charmed life.” What the mainstream doesn’t know is that underneath the poppy “do do do’s” and catchy chord progression, a violent addiction to crystal meth is discussed. There are millions of copies of their 1997 self-titled release, half of which wasting away, collecting dust in hole-in-the-wall discount record stores. Their most recent effort, Ursa Major, will be that Pledge cleaner to remove the dust on their reputation, and bring Third Eye Blind back.
Third Eye Blind has countless fair-weather fans, claiming to “love” them, but alas, only has “Semi-Charmed Life” on their ipod. It was challenging to watch their performance, thirty-something drunk couples were mumbling the words to one, maybe to song. There were twenty, at most, die-hard fans in the room, Pouring their heart out in songs such as “Motorcycle Drive-by” and “The Background”, as they were a mere ten feet from their idols. No further preamble or introduction needed, if you’re a true fan, stop reading. Please go buy Ursa Major, you won’t regret it.
For a band that shaped my music taste, it's hard to keep an honest ear open when listening to them. After spending years with a masterpiece such as Deja Entendu, it's going to be a little hard to give Daisy an unbiased listen without years of nostalgia overwhelming me, but here goes nothing, I'm doing.
I think this might be the pinnacle of reviews I've written thus far. Daisy embodies everything Brand New has ventured onto musically and lyrically as a band, I'll post it in a couple of days.
All Time Low is a love/hate band. I used to be a hater. I would be the prototypical music elitist/ snob; you know, the type that shuns modern pop-punk music while bragging about being a Neutral Milk Hotel fan. While I still have my roots in Death Cab For Cutie, Radiohead, and Thursday, I'm not looking for music to be reinventing the wheel; Sometimes it's all about fun. When it's a warm Saturday night and you're rolling around with your best friends in your car with the windows down, you're not looking for a revolutionary CD such as Radiohead's OK Computer. You're not looking for a depressing, lamenting voice about the struggle of the human race. In my case, I'm just looking to have fun. Simple, upbeat powerchords, and sappy lyrics will encourage hand claps rather than self-loathing.
Go support an energetic, deserving band such as All Time Low.
It seems my friends and I tend to talk about plans for the future and goals we want to achieve. Once we obtain those, what will be left to talk about?
We were always waiting...always waiting.
We were always waiting for something to happen.
Artist: Okkervil River Album: The Stand Ins Label: Jagjaguwar Records
Release Date: 9/9/08
When a person thinks of Folk music, Banjo’s, tobacco spitting, straw hats, and a knee slapping good time come to mind. While this might have been the case years ago, the folk genre today has become a prominent sub-genre of the vast indie scene, thus earning the name “Indie-folk.”
The Stand Ins pays tribute to the fundamentals of folk music with the acoustic guitar, banjo, and walking bass lines. The Indie side of Okkervil River shines through on The Stand Ins. Taking inspiration from Indie-god Sufjan Stevens, the band adds a whisper of orchestral elements, adding the perfect touch on songs like “On Tour with Zykos.”
Song transitions are crucial; they either connect an album to make it a flowing work of art, or give a stellar album a disconnected and untimely pace, thus downgrading the overall album. Instrumental transition tracks “The Stand Ins 1, 2 & 3” are the redeemers in the almost awkward transitions in The Stand Ins. Blotchy and lumpish gaps between the upbeat, hand-clapping, folk-like “Lost Coastlines” and the acoustic, more rock oriented “Singer Songwriter” may turn away a first-time listener. A transition that shines through on The Stand Ins is between “Starry Stairs” and “Blue Tulip.” The sultry and emotional voice of singer Will Sheff reveals itself a little more at the latter half of “Starry Stairs”, bleeding into ballad “Blue Tulip.”
The Stand Ins contains various elements of Rock, Indie, and Folk, but CD opener “Lost Coastlines” sums up what the listener is about to experience; the musical versatility of Okkervil River song. The banjo, a common Okkervil River instrument, opens the song. Sheff’s immense voice can be baritone when accompanied by a pumping bass line, or tenor when singing “La’s” melodically, not restricting his range like other bands.
“Blue Tulip” can be described no other way than fantastic. Not only is it six minutes of near-perfect musicianship, but contains multiple instruments utilized to make a song that is captivating to the listener. Instruments such as the guitar, bass, drums, piano, and organ are played to create a modern day masterpiece.
“The Stand Ins, two” bleeds into “Pop Lie”, the most upbeat song on the album. Sounding out of place, it took me several listens to like it. “Pop Lie” proves that a Folk band can get down and play faster songs, creating a positive atmosphere at concerts.
“On Tour with Zykos” starts with a delicate splash of piano keys, fading into slow-drumming and one of the best chord progressions I’ve heard in recent memory. The song closes instrumentally, complete with a beautiful arrangement of strings. Sheff’s “Oh’s”, can be heard faintly in back of a leading piano keeping it together.
I encourage you to set aside your prejudices on obscure genres, and just give a Folk, Indie, or even ambient-rock CD an honest listen; you may even find your new favorite band. I used to think the Folk genre was retro and headache-inducing. Bands I previously thought were out-there and obscure are now some of my favorite; Bright Eyes, Brand New, Mewithoutyou, and Lydia. These bands, including Okkervil River, opened my ears to new music, proving a lot of talent has gone unrecognized. You never know what bands may open new doors for your music taste, so step out of your comfort zone, buy something original and unheard. Just make sure it’s a real stand-out!
Original and unique are words that have become trite and cliché in the realm of music critiquing. Used as a synonym for good or trendy, it has lost its meaning. However, take my word on this one; Pneuma is one of the most refreshing releases of 2008. Never before have I heard post-rock, electronica, acoustic, and even ska elements intertwine perfectly to create a fresh sound. Sleep music, workout music, car music; you name it; there's a track to fit your mood. The lasting value on Pneuma is timeless; you'll hear something different every time. The sound of each stanza has a nuance unlike the rest of the song Dare I say this is music at its absolute best.
2.) Jack's Mannequin- The Glass Passenger
At the ripe young age of 25, singer Andrew McMahon has been to hell and back. After battling leukemia for quite some time, he has returned to deliver the most motivational release of the year. Underneath catchy hooks and piano ballads, McMahon's raw emotions are relatable and can be interpreted to almost any situation in your life. 2005's Everything In Transit was debut release of Jack's Mannequin after McMahon's other band, Something Corporate, went on hiatus. The Glass Passenger has all of McMahon's essential song writing formulas, but lyrical progression can be seen in songs "Swim", and "The Resolution."
3.) Bayside- Shudder
Victory Records has always Flaunted Bayside as the next Taking Back Sunday or Hawthorne Heights. Much to the Label's chagrin, Bayside's album sales have, are, and most likely always will struggle to reach a larger audience. It seems through the production of 2008's Shudder, Victory stopped pushing Bayside to conform to the label's standards. Instead, the label allowed Bayside to be who they are; the 22-year-old Brooklyn punk-rockers with a deep message about self-doubt, drugs, and love. As most punk releases are, the production isn't pristine, but the frenzied message compensates for such with its apocalyptic energy.
4.) Augustana- Can't Love, Can't Hurt
Along with whistling, a pet peeve of mine is when I peruse someone's iPod, and only find a band's hit single. For instance "Misery Business" by Paramore, "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind, and "Boston" by Augustana. In 2006, Augustana released All the Stars and Boulevards. Sadly, the song "Boston" was plastered on MTV for months, a top 40 chart topper, and even appeared on Laguna Beach. It eventually became a curse for the band; they couldn't shake the stigma of being a one hit wonder. Two years after the spotlight, Augustana returned with Can't Love, Can't Hurt. Rather than trying to recreate a CD of "Boston" imitations, the Illinois quartet dodged the fatal sophomore slump, and built on the formula of All the Stars and Boulevards; innovative piano rock with sing along melodies and catchy hooks.
5.) Forgive Durden- Razia's Shadow
A couple of months ago, so-called Fall Out Boy want-to-be band Forgive Durden lost all but one member. When skeptical about the band's future, singer Thomas Dutton did what any hopeless musician would do; write a musical. After finding two members and his musical creativity, Dutton released Razia's Shadow; A Musical. Complete with an orchestra, an extensive yet relatable story line, and guest vocals from many reputable bands, hands down Razia's Shadow is sheer genius; a work of art. A must have for TX kids.
A catchy chorus, guest appearances, sex appeal, the list goes on and on. The popular music industry has an unwritten book of rules; a format in order to get a hit single. Constantly changing, the mainstream music goes through fad after fad, creating “one hit wonders.” Bands that refuse to succumb to this “format” are virtually less successful, resulting in less popularity; hints the absence of punk, metal, indie, and hardcore in the mainstream.
In 2001, Jimmy Eat World released their third studio album, Bleed American. Unfortunately, the two singles “The Middle” and “Sweetness” overshadowed an album full of innovative early 2000’s pop-punk. The purpose of this review is to bridge the gap between those who know Jimmy Eat World only by their two hits and those who know them by their timeless discography.
In the midst of the pop-punk outbreak of the new millennium, Jimmy Eat World accompanied Blink-182, Sum 41, and New Found Glory to the mainstream audience. However, there was a side of Jimmy Eat World that when undetected by the mainstream; the emotional genre, A.K.A. “emo.” Nowadays “emo” is perceived as Fall Out Boy, tight pants, Hawthorne Heights, and eyeliner; this is all wrong. The emotional genre has been around for decades, derived of the hardcore genre, but gained popularity in the 90’s to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, The Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate, and later Dashboard Confessional. These bands broke the barrier between happy rock music and dared to sing about the bleaker side of life, while still remaining up-tempo with their music.
Three years since 1998’s critically acclaimed Clarity, Jimmy Eat World returned with Bleed American. At first listen, a more mature band is apparent, showing immense development in vocals, lyrics, and musically. Vocalist Jim Adkins parted from his simplistic lyrics and ventured into meaningful themes as messy break-ups, failure, and death. Musically, Jimmy Eat World changed into a heavier sound, accompanied by Adkins progressed, deeper sound.
“Salt Sweat Sugar” starts off with a weighty, faster guitar riff, taking a fan of Clarity by surprise. The lyrics “I’m not alone ‘cause the TV’s on yeah/ I’m not crazy ‘cause I take the right pills everyday” is basically the overall theme on Bleed American.
No Need for an introduction, “The Middle” is one of the most iconic songs of the early 2000’s, skyrocketing Jimmy Eat World’s popularity. Opening with a series of catchy, finger-tapping notes, the song flows into Adkins’ less aggressive vocals, met with a louder bass guitar, accompanied by the classic Jimmy Eat World backing vocals. The guitar solo is the climax of the song, making it one of the most defining and original of this era.
“Hear You Me” is the ballad of the CD, undoubtedly containing the acoustic guitar, slow drums, and larger-than-life vocals, overall contributing to the depressing element of the song. Adkins laments about the early death of a friend and the anguish and sadness he feels. Reminding us that every moment of life is precious are the lyrics “I never said thank you for that/now I’ll never have a chance/may angels lead you in.”
“Get it Faster” queued in by a minute of ambient noises, all backed by a slow and steady guitar. Out of nowhere, a blast of guitars and drums are accompanied by an angry, scream-like “I don’t care what you do/ I’m getting out.” Another essential Jimmy Eat World element is the dual layered guitars, which are done quite well in “Get it Faster.”
“Cautioners” is along the same lines of “Hear You Me”, a slower tempo where Adkins can unleash his emotions. An acoustic guitar is the perfect way of conveying a message straight from the heart, such as “You’ll take away your steps with hesitance/ maybe that’s a big mistake/ you know I’m thinking of you.” As seen on Clarity, the song closes with a minute of a building, repeating chorus, putting the listener into a trance.
One of the finally tracks of Bleed American ends on a good, happy note with “The Authority Song.” Hand claps, hard-striking chords, and woah’s can barely keep the listener still, the urge to tap your fingers, move your feet, or even dance is too great.
Normally I would close the review with a joke about the band, how good or bad it is, or future thoughts. All I can say is buy it! You won’t regret it, I have had this CD for seven years and it hasn’t lost its lust. I’m writing this review almost eight years post-release, so I can fill you in with Jimmy Eat World’s latest efforts. 2004’s Futures builds on the classic pop-punk foundation, and is worth a second-time around listen.