Jimmy Eat World: Invented


RIYL: Anberlin, Get Up Kids, Sense Field

By now, most of you are probably already familiar with Jimmy Eat World’s back story. Arizona band gets major label deal, then gets dropped, then gets signed by another huge label, and finally enjoys commercial success. 2001’s Bleed American was packed to the ceiling with one sun-soaked hook after another, and each album that’s followed it has provided plenty more. After the dissonance of 2004’s Futures, Jimmy Eat World honed in on their pop sensibilities on 2007’s Chase This Light. Although the album didn’t deliver the kind of sales numbers it deserved, it still features some of vocalist Jim Adkins’ finest performances.

Invented, Jimmy Eat World’s seventh studio album, doesn’t divert too far from Chase This Light. If there’s one thing that immediately stands out, it would be the subtlety in some of the arrangements. Outside of a few cuts (“My Best Theory,” “Action Needs an Audience”), most of the material on Invented doesn’t try and hit you over the head with a flurry of power chords. This is a nuanced batch of songs, and producer Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Rocket from the Crypt) does a bang-up job of capturing all the small details. Whether it’s an acoustic guitar being strummed faintly in the background, or a track of harmony vocals, Trombino brings the listener into the room with the band. After a couple albums without him, it’s great to hear Jimmy Eat World back in a recording studio with the guy.

Sonic triumphs aside, Invented isn’t without its faults. Like much of Futures‘ second half, a few songs are dragged down by weaker vocal lines and a darker tone that doesn’t necessarily work well with some of the material. Jimmy Eat World are at their best when both their guitar riffs and vocal performances are soaked in melody. We’re not suggesting for every track to be an upbeat radio-ready number, but when the group surrenders too often to the somber side of their sound, things get less interesting. We’re not sure if Invented will be remembered as favorably as some of the older albums in their fantastic discography, but there certainly are enough fine moments on it to warrant your attention today. (DGC 2010)

Click here to read our interview with Jimmy Eat World lead singer Jim Adkins

Jimmy Eat World MySpace page

  

Edwin McCain: The Best of Edwin McCain


RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Michael McDermott, David Cook

If you want to start feeling old, watch what happens when an artist you grew up listening to is releasing “greatest hits” or career retrospectives that span five to ten albums or more. Such may be the case with singer/songwriter Edwin McCain, who has been making his own brand of acoustic-driven, southern-tinged alternative rock for almost two decades now. So here he is with The Best of Edwin McCain, a nice collection of tracks that encompass both radio hits and some obscure gems as well. McCain may have begun his career as part of the Aware Records camp, the one that spawned some powerhouse alt/pop acts like Better than Ezra and Train, but he wound up evolving into a hit machine – the kind of hits that made the knees of young-to-middle-aged women weak, and that would find their way onto wedding band set lists. We’re talking songs like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask For More.” And that set list just got longer too, as there is a new track on here, “Walk with You,” about a dad giving his daughter away in marriage. But those in the know have understood that McCain’s songwriting prowess runs much deeper, and that is never more evident than on his inaugural single, “Solitude,” or on the groove-y “Take Me.” There is also a decent cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.” But for as balanced as this album is, there are a couple of glaring omissions, most notably “Go Be Young” and “Ghost of Jackson Square” from the Messenger album. Still, that’s the beauty of the digital era—that we can go make our own “greatest hits” collections of our favorite artists. Either way, this is a nice look back at a fine career so far. (Time Life 2010)

Edwin McCain MySpace page

  

Lifehouse: Smoke & Mirrors


RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Matchbox Twenty

When Lifehouse released their edgy debut No Name Face in 2000, their music was leaning more toward alternative and cool – because of the songs and the way they recorded them, but also because of how radio, to some degree, still drove record sales. But as bands like Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind keep aging, their music tends to organically soften. And as it does, they start to mesh on radio with artists such as, say, Edwin McCain or Huey Lewis. And while we all do age, there is something inherently disappointing in watching a band like Lifehouse start to listen too much to producers and radio programmers instead of making the cool music that they used to. Still, these guys can write hit songs in their sleep, and on Smoke & Mirrors, their fifth studio effort, Lifehouse has delivered yet another batch of ear candy that will have little girls swooning. For the rest of us, it’s a nice album, but nothing we haven’t heard before, from Lifehouse or any other bands in their alt/pop genre.

Songs like the upbeat “All In” and “Had Enough” are formulaic, but there are also some nice surprises. The first one is “Nerve Damage,” which is an edgy rocker that even has a bluesy guitar solo that is (gasp) almost 30 seconds long. Then there’s the best track of all, “From Where You Are,” a stunning acoustic ballad that shows singer Jason Wade hasn’t lost a single strand of vocal cord over the past decade. Someday Lifehouse may go back to having creative control. But even so, their music doesn’t exactly suck, and you can’t blame them for chasing a big paycheck. (Geffen 2010)

Lifehouse MySpace page

  

Dear Future: Can’t Wait Any Longer

Dear Future is one of those bands that right now is garnering a lot of record label attention, and for good reason. It might seem that there are a lot of Radiohead clones out there, and while that’s a comparison that borders on copping out for lack of a better one, the fact remains that Bends-era Radiohead coarses through the collective vein of Dear Future. And that’s not a bad thing at all. These guys from Illinois are back with their sophomore release, Can’t Wait Any Longer, and it’s likely that some label will do just that. Sure, the brooding tenor and moody arrangements are something you’ve heard before, but these guys get that the songs have to be there too, giving them a nice accessibility factor. And there is a nice little roller coaster ride, from the poppy title track to the darker but melodic “Eden” or “You Are Loved” to the bonus piano track, “Twenty.” Hopefully the slopes of the coaster will continue to be fun for these guys and that tons of adoring fans will continue to find them, because in a somewhat crowded genre, Dear Future is a band to keep on your radar. (self-released)

Dear Future MySpace Page

  

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