Wednesday, 17 October 2007

A Brief History of Jimmy Eating The World

It's been an exciting week in music for me personally (kinda shows eh, with so many music-related posts this past week), and it just keeps getting better, now with the release of a new album by my favorite band - Jimmy Eat World.

Anyway, yesterday, while others were still celebrating Hari Raya (even after the holidays were over), I 'celebrated' the release of Chase This Light - by loading my iPod with every single Jimmy Eat World (I refuse to use the acronym for the band) song I could find, and listened to them in order of the year they were released.

The result? I actually got to hear how the band has progressed from its early days as one of the pioneers of the now maligned 'emo-rock' music movement (Static Prevails was apparently one of the earliest ever 'emo' records to be released by a major label, though they didn't know it at the time...), to the band they are today.

So, I hereby declare yesterday Jimmy Eat World Day, and I shall now offer a short (ok, maybe not so short) history of the band.

Comprising of Jim Adkins (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Linton (guitar, vocals), Rick Burch (bass) & Zach Lind (drums); the band was formed in 1993 (yes, almost 15 years ago!!!), and are regarded as one of the 'pioneers' of 'emo rock', a genre that has now been hijacked by crap-ass bands like Fall Out Boy (PTUI!) and Good Charlotte (PTOOOI!) and has sadly, lost all credibility.

Anyway, way before they hit the big time or even signed to a major label, Jimmy Eat World released a self-titled LP that sounded a lot more like a punk rock album than an emo-rock one, though they did show signs of the direction their music was headed to. For instance, the opener for the album, er.. Opener, has a glorious, almost plaintive-sounding guitar section that showed more than an inkling of the melody they were capable of.

Static Prevails, which is their 'official' debut album, also sounds 'harder' and rougher, and is probably my least favorite of their albums, despite the presence of one of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs - Call It In The Air (I love the duelling vocals in the chorus). But then came Clarity in 1999.

Clarity was in some sense THE album that established them as masters of their 'emo' style, and also established their sound as the template' for people to associate 'emo rock' to.

Listening to the album immedietely after Jimmy Eat World and Static Prevails, I found it to be much more melodious and more er... emotional than the first two albums.

While songs like Table for Glasses and Lucky Denver Mint made it to my list of favorite Jimmy Eat World songs, and other songs like Clarity and Goodbye Sky Harbour also nice (though IMHO the latter could have been AT LEAST five minutes SHORTER!); nothing else on that album can beat the delicate tinkling at the beginning and the end of A Sunday, which is naturally MY favorite song on the album.

Oh, but wait till you hear this. Apparently, after making Clarity, the band was dropped by their label (SUCKERS!) and guess what those stupid money-whoring major label suits missed out on? Bleed American.

This is probably the album that helped the band go mainstream. Heck, even if you'd never heard of the band before, you'd probably have heard songs like The Middle (it just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle...) or Sweetness (I love screaming this song in the car, and headbanging to the pounding drums)

It's not just the popular songs that are great in this album. Other songs like Hear You Me and My Sundown are awesome, emotional ballads; and the band's knack for melody shines through in other songs like Your House, If You Don't, Don't and A Praise Chorus. Somehow, the title track doesn't grab me just as much though. Maybe because it's a lot more punk than emo. Not that it's a bad song though, I just don't prefer it all that much to the rest of the album...

Riding the tailcoats of Bleed American's success, the band released Futures, which to date is my favorite Jimmy Eat World album, despite having a lot more 'skipped songs' (meaning songs I would usually skip, not that the CD skips) than Bleed American.

So, if I skip so many songs, why do I say it's my favorite then? Well, because the album also has the most number of 'most-repeated' songs on my list. I can listen tothe following songs - Futures, Work, Kill, Polaris and 23 - over and over again without getting tired of the songs, and I can also sing them over and over and over again without getting ever getting bored of the lyrics.

23 especially is my favorite Jimmy Eat World song OF ALL TIME. Not only is the song brillianly emotional yet melodic, the guitars and harmony are just simply awesome, the soaring bits of the song just blows me away; and best of all, it runs an awesome seven minutes long, with nary a boring bit throughout the song. All the ingredients for my perfect kind of song.

Make no mistake about it, if this song had been released 7 years ago, it would have been THE SOUNDTRACK to my 23-year-old life. Unfortunately, it wasn't, but it still remains one of my favorite songs of all time.

So, you can see why after the high of Futures and in particular 23, why the band's subsequent releases - the EP Stay on My side Tonight and the current Chase The Light) were slightly disappointing to me. Sure, Stay on My Side Tonight had the awesome Disintegration and a great cover of Heatmiser's Half-Right, but the other two songs were just blah, and the remix of Drugs and Me was plain awful.

As for Chase The Light, I'm still trying to get into the album, and though there are no glorious moments like A Sunday on Clarity, Sweetness on Bleed American, and (of course) 23 on Futures; it's still a decent sounding-album. So far, I like the title track, the lead single Big Casino, and Carry You.

But somehow, somewhere, the album sounds a little too bland, IMHO. And just a little TOO polished. Oh, it's still got the classic Jimmy Eat World sound, but somehow the band sounds like it's just rehashing its ideas somewhat.

Oh well, I guess you can't always expect your favorite bands to deliver ALL THE TIME, right? Besides, if their future albums suck, I can always listen to 23 over and over again...

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