It was their driving, power-pop side that finally shot Arizona quartet Jimmy Eat World through to mainstream success—the sugary, chugging “The Middle” from 2001’s self-titled LP, specifically. And there’s plenty of that piledriven-chord, bouncy-vocal-hook stuff on the band’s new Chase This Light, opening single “Big Casino” setting the toothy-distortion pace under singer Jim Adkins’ clean-and-bright chorus calls of “Get up! Get up!”
Getting up is something the band does exceptionally—Adkins, weaned on punk’s attack and alt-rock’s melodic exploration, elevates the straight and driving Les Paul barre-chord brawn with a vocal approach that’s slick and controlled, but infused with expressive emotionalism. That blend is a big part of why “The Middle” came off more authentic than your average radio-rock staple, but just as sticky; it’s why honeyed power-pop Chase This Light tracks like “Always Be” and “Electable (Give It Up),” for their healthy bits of corny-pop constructs, won’t totally sour the palates of Jimmy Eat World’s more indie-minded fans.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007 4:01 PM
Folk rocker Devendra Banhart has gotten his mystical mood music down to an art on Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, an album that, in time, reveals itself. With the same lush compositions that have earned him his cult following, Smokey is an eclectic and gorgeous collection of songs with echoes of Tropicalia, Latin, psychedelia, and soul.
Raised for much of his life among the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, 26-year-old Banhart emphasizes his roots by lacing a trio of cancións into this ambitious, 16-song disc. Burnished by Banhart’s warbling tenor, Smokey begins with “Cristobal,” on which Banhart picks a wistful tune from his cuatro, a four-string Spanish guitar that sounds like a cranked music box, while actor Gael Garcia Bernal quietly duets. (The song is on the score for Bernal’s new film Déficit.) Throughout the recording of Smokey, Banhart’s secluded Topanga Canyon, California home served as a cosmic common ground for proud freaks of the modern folk scene, leading to additional guest appearances from the likes of Black Crowe Chris Robinson, English singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan, and ’70s folk singer Linda Perhacs.
Friday, October 19, 2007 1:42 PM
Will Hoge evokes opposite things, calling an album something like Draw the Curtains. He could mean the end of an act, signaling the house lights to rise and the brooms to start their work, or maybe just the opposite—pulling the curtains open to let the sunshine in for a new day’s dawn.
Hoge mires listeners in the former through much of Draw the Curtains, his gritty croon wriggling through rebuked apologies, disappointments, and bitter endings.
The Nashville soul-rock songsmith has had his share of bitter business endings—his brief dalliance early in the decade as an Atlantic Records artist didn’t make for many positive interview quotes after it ended. But given the vibrant year of road-heavy promoting for last year’s self-released The Man Who Killed Love and the new deal with Rykodisc for Draw the Curtains, business strife certainly wouldn’t seem the thing to put Hoge in a dark place. He’s going more for the gut here, and it aches indeed.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:43 AM
Tom Smith may have met the other members of Editors while studying music theory at university four years ago but his actual education came much earlier, when as a teenager he listened nonstop to the two albums that set the Britpop movement aflame--Oasis' Definitely Maybe and Blur's Parklife. "Suddenly, all I wanted to do was be in a band," Smith says. "I learned to play the guitar by playing those records."
Thursday, October 11, 2007 5:01 PM
If there’s anything worse than being a child star, it’s being a child cult hero--a kid who’s seized upon by hipsters and tastemakers because of some blend of precocity and quirkiness, only to be cast aside once legal drinking age comes along. Most of these folks either flame out big time or--if they’re lucky, wind up getting a degree in electrical engineering or some such discipline.
And then there are the Ben Lees of the world.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 12:57 PM
The fourth and latest album by the Red Stick Ramblers makes two things abundantly clear: One is that it is entirely possible for a band to effectively mine the traditional music of Louisiana without sounding like it’s mired in the past; the other is that the Ramblers, at their very core, are a dance band—a quintet whose artistry recalls a time when musicians could, upon request, serve up just about anything from the bandstand that was needed to keep the party in full swing. Made in the Shade, the Ramblers’ fourth album, hammers home all of this and more, and it firmly showcases the band’s groove-laden stylistic gumbo of Cajun, Western swing, blues, and pre-War jazz. Besides befitting the band’s Baton Rouge roots, their sound feels comfortable and familiar. The twin fiddles of Linzy Young and Kevin Wimmer are the driving forces behind the earthy sonic template, but this is by no means a two-man show: Guitarist Chas Justus demonstrates an undeniable flair for coaxing tasteful, jazzy lines from his Gibson ES-150, and the band’s many wide grooves—propelled by bassist Eric Frey and drummer Glenn Fields—give this album an ambience that, from the opening title track on, is firmly in the 21st century. Guaranteed to make your feet move.
Thursday, October 04, 2007 4:29 PM
If you’re not a teenager, chances are you hadn’t heard of the Michigan-based post-hardcore act, Chiodos until a few weeks when they debuted at number five on the Billboard Top 200 charts. But despite their relatively young fanbase, Chiodos don’t pander.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:16 PM
Three years ago Jarrod Gorbel was just another one of those anonymous hipster musicians from Williamsburg, New York who knocked his guitar case against the shins of everyone on the train. Then, as the Honorary Title, he and multi-instrumentalist pal Aaron Kamstra released Anything Else But the Truth, an acoustic achievement that led to their signing with Warner Brothers. Turns out all those train rides back to Brooklyn paid off: Gorbel spent many of them dashing off lovely lyrics on bar napkins, and later, in his apartment, coaxing what would become the Truth songs from his vintage Gibson ES-150.
Friday, September 14, 2007 12:11 PM
Midway through Michelle Shocked’s live disc ToHeavenURide, she promises—or threatens—the audience with a ride through “the many moods of Michelle Shocked,” but that’s only partly true.
Thursday, September 13, 2007 4:48 PM
When Brooklyn-based Chris Bergsonheaded upstate to Woodstock, New York, to cut his latest album of rootsy rhythm & blues at the recording studio of Band drummer Levon Helm, the guitarist and vocalist made sure to bring the sounds of Muscle Shoals and Memphis along for the ride.
Thursday, September 13, 2007 4:02 PM