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Jimmy Eat World – Invented

Beautiful and stellar, these Jimmy Eat World songs always sound like they’re written amongst the stars.

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Jimmy Eat World have always come across as artists whose authenticity isn’t tangled in the typical blueprints of critical music appreciation. Their appeal, one long standing and global, rests on values outside of these norms (the kind the Robert Christgaus and Lester Bangs of the world harp on about) oft associated with socially affecting music. Yet one could argue that Jimmy Eat World have indeed been on the forefront of a socially viable brand of music. It is because their music is about moments and not about revolution, about heart and not art, that the praise languished upon them is from the thousands of people who fill their venues through an emotional connection and not by some witty journalist with a furrowed brow.

Their music, from Static Prevails and Clarity, to Futures and Chase This Light, is described by the one word critically acclaimed music cannot be; “beautiful.” It is not angular, or blunt or transient. It is patient and refined. Invented, their latest, is by all accounts, beautifully executed sentimentality. Histrionic in its words, its aural accompaniments are all about chasing that uncontrollable chemistry that happens within each and every one of us. The best place to begin is at the very apex- the title track “Invented”. It is the moment in which the long awaited build reaches its crescendo and over its seven minutes plus, the shimmering acoustics and the whispered vocal hum become a firework of sharp guitars, dynamic percussions and that unforgettable emotional incandescence we’ve seen in “Table For Glasses” and to a more compact extent, “For Me This is Heaven”. In “Littlething”, they embark on the kind of lyrical introspection that has become the hallmark for the band. Writing words on frosted windows with lines like; “Just a little thing / buried in the other things / burning away, from inside / could you be with me tonight?” to the backdrop of orchestral harmonies and melodies best suited for moments when snow is falling on your driveway.

“Evidence” plays out like a mid-paced “Big Casino” while the first single, “My Best Theory”, is the band at its most unorthodox. Its skittering beats and rhythmic dissonance is the closest they’ll ever get to angular songwriting. In “Movielike”, they dissect the realities of big city life for all those who seek fortune and happiness within its monolithic walls; “Nothing movie-like / Nothing magic / People just tire to fight the constant battle / Waiting to see a sign? / Then you’ve seen the best already.” And while its content is anything but, the song itself is in sharp contrast to its disappointed outlook, and in essence, very much like its namesake.

Introspection, life and love are the cornerstones of the Jimmy Eat World manifesto. Be it sad heart musings (“Cut”) or recollections on those pioneering instincts of post-school restlessness (“Coffee And Cigarettes”), their connection to listeners continues to be this bond. They are the principal protagonists of their genre and Invented is its most important expression since Something to Write Home About. Beautiful and stellar, these Jimmy Eat World songs always sound like they’re written amongst the stars.

(Interscope Records)

Reviews

Alice Cooper – Breadcrumbs EP

Few frontmen of rock will ever be as enigmatic and as timeless as Alice Cooper

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Alice Cooper Breadcrumbs

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.

(earMUSIC)

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Reviews

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

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Goo Goo Dolls Miracle Pill

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.

(Warner Bros.)

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