Jimmy Eat World

I’ve been listening to a new album by Jimmy Eat World, a band I just discovered, although they’ve been around for almost a decade. They’ve also had a few minor hits which I’ve previously heard, but weren’t solid enough to get me to search them out.

However, their new album, Chase This Light, is a solid piece of work and produced excellently. If there has been any abysmal plight in the music world since the mid-90’s, it has been the abhorrent standard of production. While albums still sell millions, no one is really thinking, “but can they be better”.

A lot has contributed to this scourge. A glut of ’self-produced’ media, with the advent of digital tools so readily available, along with a near implosion of intelligence in the music industry as they spent their time and money chasing their copyrights and protecting their business model.

The ideas of pure sound quality, excellent clean production, and understanding of sound placement, has been virtually lost, especially in pop, rock, and folk music.

Quite frankly, I blame metal. No, scratch that - let’s go back further. I blame British Wave music. And Elvis.

The 40-year fad to put the ‘attitude’ and ‘toughness’ of music over and above pleasing the ear has been our undoing. I’m guilty. And so are you. I still love my metal. Some of it, anyway. But we now have two generations that simply don’t even know good music from poor music. And don’t get me started on lyrics.

Of course, there are thousands of good to great albums put out every year. But they don’t sell as well as the big stars.

Back to Jimmy Eat World.

Within their own fan club, they are getting a bit of criticism over this new album because it supposedly strays from their prior sound. I briefly listened to their old stuff, but I have to say that to a trained ear as mine, the new album is a huge improvement. They decided to self-produce it, moving beyond the sound that their prior producer of their previous three albums had molded them into. They had some help from Chris Testa (producer of the Dixie Chicks - yeah, I was surprised too), and executive producer Butch Nig who has worked with Sonic Youth and the Smashing Pumpkins.

If you like music, or if you like songs, give it a listen and see if you don’t agree.

Their current radio/MTV track is “Big Casino” and I just love a few parts of it that they did exceedingly well. Good music is intentional music - and it takes work.

First, the refrain:

I’ll accept with poise, with grace
When they draw my name from the lottery
And they’ll say ‘All the salt in the world couldn’t melt that ice’
I’m the one who gets away
I’m a New Jersey success-story
And they’ll say ‘Lord, give me a chance to shake that hand’

The “with poise, with grace” works so well - and so much better than the more obvious “with poise and grace”. The entire refrain powers on the strength of the “New Jersey success-story” which carries the refrain.

I’m also very partial to the second verse:

Back when I was younger I was someone you’d've liked
Got an old guitar I’d had for years I’d let you buy
And I’ll tell you something else that you ain’t dying enough to know
There’s still some living left when your prime comes and goes

There’s no denying that the word “youd’ve” isn’t used enough in music, but the way singer Jim Adkins sort of forces the “you ain’t dying enough to know” into a line that seems stuffed with too many syllables is especially clever.

The first part of the bridge is nothing clever, though, when it comes to lyrics:

I have one last wish
And it’s from my heart

But, I challenge you to listen to it. In the context of the song, with the word “heart” spread over at least eight notes, it’s placed just perfectly to put an exclamation part on the bridge. Bridges just don’t get much better than this one. So many songwriters put one in at their own peril just because someone said somewhere “You must have a bridge” when they would be better off without it. Jimmy Eats World has a penchant for solid bridges as I’ve been listening to them.

I actually sense some familiarity with Keane, which is odd when you consider that Keane is from the UK and Jimmy Eats World is from Mesa, Arizona. Maybe it’s a bit of the solid songwriting with the singing. Jim Adkins isn’t the crooner that the lead singer from Keane is, but he plays to his own strength of a little American rock n’ roll, mixed with some very clear pronunciation and accenting on just the right note or syllable that puts a real punch into his singing.

I highly recommend this album.

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