Arizona band Jimmy Eat World have been around the block musically. Since their grand inception in 1993, the act have gone on to cultivate a sound of their own, and from this, they’ve become true advocates of emotion. And by priding themselves on designing thought-provoking work, their stake in the emo-rock circuit is deeply rooted. Emotional music has taken its blows, it has come under scrutiny as being too ‘sad’ for the modern pop upstarts, but it’s needed, and it still emerges victorious in a scene rapidly changing.
Being a band who acknowledge emotion, who formulate songs tapered around the somber note and tone, Jimmy Eat World are mainstays, and many class them as being the godfathers of the genre. This accreditation comes from the long list of tracks and albums the band have constructed, from their self-titled debut in 1994 to their 2016 release Integrity Blues. None of these records have been labeled as being lackluster, they’re all different and they all channel emotion.
To make it ‘big’ it takes substantial and grueling work. Jimmy Eat World have been around for a long time, but they had to work their way up platforms. Second album Static Prevails did earn the band some credit, but it never broke the glass ceiling, and it never shaped the unit as ‘ones to watch’.
Although Static Prevails did give this young band a boost, it was 2001 when they flew from the musical nest onto the patch where the major players were staking their claims. Bleed American was the record that made Jimmy Eat World captains of emo. The content was refined and defined the band’s sound. From the smack of “A Praise Chorus” to the cathartic “Hear You Me“, the opus granted them immediate access into bigger venues and rooms filled with lovers embrace.
After the brilliance of Bleed American, Jimmy Eat World delivered a more polished sound in 2004’s Futures. Even with the changes, the album did have that punch and emotion we all expect. Lead singer Jim Adkins conveyed through gallant, sober, lyrics, his grievances. Work is a song which gradually exposes the album as a statement of intent. “Kill” is a sadder evaluation. “Drugs Or Me” is an eye-opening assessment of someone cascading into addiction. They’re lost, subdued, hellishly frail, and turning blue. And Futures is Jimmy Eat World’s personal expedition into emotions unnerving core. They bellowed, they struck nerves, but they delivered. And that is all you need from a band that just wanted to rest their heavy heads.
Chase This Light hit the scene in 2007. An album that came to be even more polished, but has become a central element to the band’s catalog. “Big Casino” starts the record off with brazen guitar lines and a massive chorus, taking the listener by the scruff of the neck. Also on this disc, there’s plenty of emotion as songs such as “Chase This Light” and “Dizzy” come to the fore. Chase The Light is a balanced listen, and it surprised many people by its complexity.
Invented drifted in next in 2010. It is a punchy affair, showcasing Adkins’s lyrical dynamism. He’s a true songwriter, taking snippets from his day to day experiences and placing them into a bundle of wonder. Invented didn’t hit ground-breaking proportions, but it is an album of clarity, an opus worthy of being a solid addition. Songs such as “Evidence” and “Coffee And Cigarettes” blended into the fabric well. Those powerful guitar tones and soft vocals intertwined to create an astounding contrast. To be truthful, Invented doesn’t overshadow the records prior to it, but it does display ingenuity. Intelligence is paramount on every release from Jimmy Eat World, and Invented stakes a claim for being their most sophisticated compendium.
Editor’s note: Clarity was the first Jimmy Eat World album I bought, off the strength of the single “Lucky Denver Mint”, which I had heard on the radio. It was the start to a long and everlasting connection with their music. The album celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and to this day, it’s still my favorite.
Back in 2003, we spoke to Mark Trombino, the album’s producer about working with Jimmy Eat World.
The band finished their next addition in 2013. Damage showed that Jimmy Eat World were always stuck to their roots, and its sound is reminiscent of the days of Bleed American and even Futures. Lyrically it is intense, captivating and softer. There’s ballads here, songs of despair. Adkins displays this on tracks including “Lean” and “Book Of Love”. On that particular track, Adkins sings with freedom but also there’s bubbling rage overstepping the mark. He describes a lover who is filled up to the skies with lies, and he craves the truth. It is wonderful songwriting.
Jimmy Eat World’s most recent work is Integrity Blues. The album transports the listener into a world where hatred and good fight. The melody is composed well, and the record as a whole presents itself as a genuine record full of brazen guitar work and insightful songwriting. The act dislodges partially from the acoustic sound and shows us that they can play hard-hitting music. Integrity Blues is a statement of intent from a seasoned band who don’t want to be rubbed away. Songs such as “Sure And Certain” and “Get Right” prosper beyond the rest, and are sure winners. The beat, the melody, the bass lines all meld together smoothly.
All of these records have emotion within their interior. They all naturally bloom but none overshadow. They use the same template, but don’t sound completely alike. And judging by the response, many love the diversity of Jimmy Eat World. But many don’t know the band have been around since the early nineties, the same era as Green Day’s Dookie and Nirvana’s Nevermind, as well as The Offspring’s Smash.
As we look forward, Jimmy Eat World have announced they’re working a new full length. The band recently released a two-song EP Love Never / half heart. These songs exhibit a brash direction and a cathartic one. Both compelling additions to the catalog. It takes guts for bands to be making music 25 years on. Not many bands have lasted this long, not many have delivered consistently good albums, but this unit are different. They’re hard workers and their musicianship should be acclaimed. And being the true advocates of emotion is a suitable title for this forward-thinking act.
Alice Cooper – Breadcrumbs EP
Few frontmen of rock will ever be as enigmatic and as timeless as Alice Cooper
For a large number of Alice Cooper fans who didn’t experience everyone’s favorite snake-adorned shock rocker at the height of his powers through the ’70s, most probably were introduced to Cooper through 1989’s hair-metal infused generational breakout album Trash. That was at least, my introduction to Vincent Furnier, at the age of 9 years old, seeking for something to satiate my love of hair metal and shock rock. Trash was everything Bon Jovi’s New Jersey was- big, radio-friendly- but had that added sense of danger and darkness that didn’t come with the pretty side of hair metal. However, as sure as songs like “House of Fire“, “Bed of Nails“, and the ubiquitous hit “Poison”, are still great today, long-time Alice Cooper fans know that Cooper is at his most enthralling is when he taps into his garage rock lineage, cut from the same mold that was paved by bands like the MC5.
So for those born in the early 80s like myself, the initial foray into the world of Alice Cooper meant that you had to work your way back into this long-running discography to find the rich, often timeless work Cooper is best known for. In 2019 Alice Cooper himself is working his way back on his latest EP, the aptly titled Breadcrumbs. The 6-song EP finds Cooper revisiting music and artists connected thematically by what ties them all together- the Motor City. This Detroit-centric EP features Alice Cooper’s take on songs by Suzi Quatro, The Dirtbombs, Motown soul singer Shorty Long, and of course, The MC5 (the EP also features guest guitar and vocal work from Wayne Kramer). Included in the mix are a reworked version of the 2003 Alice Cooper song “Detroit City” and one new cut, “Go Man Go”.
On his reworked “Detroit City”, the song is given a rawer makeover, sounding far less produced than the original. Gone are the orchestral overdubs with the song relying more on the loud bluesy guitars- perhaps the way it was meant to sound. Suzi Q’s “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” stays fairly faithful to the original, but Quatro’s vocal sneer is replaced with.. well, Alice Cooper’s vocal sneer. MC5’s “Sister Anne” is almost as great as the original 1971version, with the added benefit of today’s production qualities.
The EP’s one new track, “Go Man Go”, is very much Detroit, and very much Alice Cooper. It’s rock n’ roll roots are coated with a little bit of rockabilly, a little bit of garage, a lot of attitude. Like this EP, the track should be a precursor of Alice Cooper’s anticipated next album. The hope is that he continues this work of keeping things dirty rock n’ roll as the results are more often than not, pretty great.
Few frontmen of rock will ever be as enigmatic and as timeless as Alice Cooper. Breadcrumbs is a noble effort meant to tease and build anticipation than satisfy your craving for all new Alice Cooper material. It’s done just that, hinting at what could be around the corner. On top of which it shows that there are few rock stars who will ever reach the status and longevity of everyone’s favorite rock n’ roll snake charmer.
Goo Goo Dolls – Miracle Pill
The Goo Goo Dolls have always just written good music for people who cared only that the music was good
One of the most remarkable things about the Goo Goo Dolls is their steadfast consistency amongst the ever-changing backdrop of popular music. Six years ago when they released Magnetic, I wrote that the band remained unchanged in the face of their supposed “waning popularity” in the eyes of pop culture and radio charts. It’s true that many of their contemporaries that made it big alongside them in the late 1990s are long gone, but for the Goos, they’ve quietly continued to be above everything else, themselves, just older, wiser, and continuingly more refined. Miracle Pill is their 12th studio album and is the natural progression from 2016’s Boxes. Like their previous release, Miracle Pill continues their musical evolution away from alternative rock to the more serene territory of adult contemporary. Sure, it may sound like a bad thing, but like everything the Goos have done over the past 25 years, it’s supremely confident and composed.
They may not write songs with the caustic bite like “Here Is Gone” anymore, but they have been finding comfort in the more introspective pop-strewn melodies found in songs like “Lights”. Similarly, in the new album’s lead single and title track, the Goos tap into bouncy, easy-to-digest pop empowerment. Songs like “Indestructible” show that the band haven’t put down their guitars just yet, constructing songs that are still fond of their alternative rock roots but have found comfort in grander, more expansive sounds.
The album’s best moments are when the Goo Goo Dolls unashamedly tug on the heartstrings like they’ve done so many times before. The quiet jangly nature of “Over You” does this particularly well, while the bigger, electronic-infused arena rock of “Lost” shows that this type of music is just done extremely poorly by bands like Imagine Dragons. “Autumn Leaves” is a throwback to the kind of songs found on Let Love In and Dizzy Up The Girl, sounding organic and wistful, while the closing of “Think It Over” is the kind of song they’ve been hinting at since Something For The Rest Of Us. It’s part quintessential Goos, but contemporary and timeless at the same time.
Credit to the Robby Takac songs of the album too- “Step In Line”, “Life’s a Message”- both some of the finest songs Takac has written. He is often cast in the shadow of John Rzeznik’s more recognizable sound, but on Miracle Pill, his work is the best its sounded since Dizzy.
The Ringer recently wrote a piece titled ‘The Goo Goo Dolls Were Never the Cool Kids, but They’re Still Standing’. I echoed these sentiments in that Magnetic review years ago, but if there was anything long time Goo Goo Dolls fans know is that the band were never concerned about popularity or being “cool”. The problem with being cool in music is that it fades. The Goo Goo Dolls have always just written good music for people who cared only that the music was good. Not much has changed in that sense, and really, that’s much better than being cool.