Showing posts with label jimmy eat world. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jimmy eat world. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2016

video review: 'integrity blues' by jimmy eat world

And that's two for tonight. Whew, this went down a lot easier than I expecting, really quite pleased with it too. Did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, that's for sure...

And next up, Tove Lo and... well, this Avenged Sevenfold record is bound to be interesting, I suppose... stay tuned!

album review: 'integrity blues' by jimmy eat world

Of the albums I was expecting that I'd eventually cover this year, a new record from Jimmy Eat World was not one of them.

And to be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure why that is, probably not helped that I'm pretty divided on the group as a whole. I've always considered the band something of a mess of contradictions: the lyrics treading right up to the line of emo with frontman Jim Adkins tending to underplay his delivery... paired with instrumentation that went straight for power pop and never turned back, most of which led to songs that had swell and impact instrumentally but weren't always well matched by their content. It was always a balancing act for me with Jimmy Eat World - at their best, they hit anthemic rock beats that could match the broader scope of their writing, or managed to precisely nail a sweet spot that would make them influential in emo throughout the next decade. 

Granted, by emo standards Jimmy Eat World were never great songwriters - Say Anything never had anything to worry about - which is why I tended to like their more anthemic stabs like Futures and Chase The Light a fair bit more than most, and am willing to forgive some parts of Invented. But 2013's Damage was a frustrating listen, an attempt to go 'back to basics' with their scope and sound, and ditching Mark Trombino's production to do it left with middling results at best - not a bad album, but certainly not one anybody remembered. But there's a part of me that was kind of curious about their album this year Integrity Blues, mostly because they were working with Justin Meldel-Johnsen on production - and even though I've definitely come down hard on his production work in the past, he has injected more personality into his work and that could be a good fit for Jimmy Eat World, who as a band I've always thought could use a little more flash. So okay, how as Integrity Blues?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

album review: 'damage' by jimmy eat world

Ugh, I hate this. 

I hate that this is a factor in my enjoyment of songs, because it makes me look like the most nitpicking, audiophile asshole, the kind that bitches against iPods because of mp3 compression and only listens to FLACs, or the kind that remixes and remasters songs in his basement and because of that has an inflated feeling that 'he just knows music better'. Let me make this absolutely fucking clear - I completely get why people like listening to music at high bitrates, and I would be lying if I didn't say that I'd take the sound of good organic vinyl over some YouTube rip any day of the week. And yeah, I will completely stand behind artists like Nick Cave when he says that Henry's Dream didn't come out properly because of the shoddy production, and I will wholeheartedly support his choice to make a phenomenal live album where he basically replayed the album properly.

But with all of that in mind, music should be about music, not production. While there is a fine art to good production and mixing, it's arguably the least important element in comparison to the instrumentation and lyrics. The notes being played and the words being sung are the creative element, the raw spark of art - production and mixing are the editing desk, the polish, the filter from which the art is passed to us. It shouldn't matter if 'Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones is played mono or stereo or if it was run through a high pass filter or the reverb is a little too high on Jagger's microphone, it's still 'Satisfaction' by the fucking Rolling Stones

But as much as I don't like it, I can't help but admit that production and mixing matter. They might be the least important element in this process, but they're definitely an element in this process that is disastrous to overlook. And not for the first time, I can't help but feel that if an element of the production for this band had been improved, I'd like them a lot more.

So with that, let's talk about Jimmy Eat World, yet another entry in the list of acts that I can definitely acknowledge is good and that I can kind of like, but I can never quite love, no matter how hard I try. But unlike a case like Radiohead, I can pinpoint exactly where Jimmy Eat World doesn't work for me: the vocal production and placement in the mix has never consistently worked.

Let me expand. The band burst into the underground in 1994 with their self-titled debut, which was decent enough to score them a small cult following that was quickly squashed by their 1996 follow-up Static Prevails. Now, there are a slew of other problems with Static Prevails beyond the vocal production mix, mostly in that the songwriting was pretty lousy and the instrumentation wasn't as polished, but most of these problems were cleaned up by the 1999 album Clarity. And yes, I'll be the first to acknowledge that the best elements of Jimmy Eat World's sound - the extremely solid guitar work, the bigness in their sound, their heartfelt (if occasionally self-obsessed) lyrics - were all here. But as much as I tried, I could never get over the fact that lead singer Jim Adkins' vocals were buried midway in the track behind the guitars, and were more often than not barely audible. 

That was the other factor that always annoyed me about Jimmy Eat World, namely that the vocal performance was never very strong, as Adkins' vocals always struck me as rather thin. Fortunately the band compensated for that on their next release Bleed American, pulling the vocals more to the front of the track and adding reverb and backing vocals to support Adkins, and sure enough Bleed American was their strongest album yet. They'd follow it with Futures and Chase This Light, both albums I really like but don't quite love, mostly due to the swarm of little irritations that always seemed to leap to the forefront of my mind, mostly surrounding Adkins' vocals and the occasional sloppy or immature bit of songwriting (the worst thing I'll ever say about the instrumentation is that on a few occasions it got a little cluttered or repetitive). And yet always the persistent problem I had on all three of those albums is that every so often - often enough to be noticeable and frustrating - the vocals were just drowned out entirely behind the roar of the guitars, and while I'll admit that this will always be a pet peeve of mine, it rankles here all the more because of how much Jimmy Eat World consistently got right.

And then they released Invented in 2010, and... well, I'll be more polite to it than some of the more rabid fans and say it was uneven. Sure, the trademark elements of Jimmy Eat World were here, and the vocals were high enough in the mix that they could usually be pulled out, but the attempts to add electronic elements and a female backing vocalist did nothing to help matters, and the songwriting hadn't improved (both in technical proficiency or subject matter) since Chase This Light in 2007. But it was on Invented they let lead guitarist Tom Linton sing lead vocals, and it was here that my problem with Jimmy Eat World finally crystallizes - the vocal production on Jim Adkins' voice never fits with the production of the rest of the track. Sure, his thin tenor matches the subject matter of the songs fairly well (Jimmy Eat World has always been one of the wussiest bands in alt rock and power pop, and that's saying something), but in comparison to the crashing, epic sounding guitars and pounding bass and drums, he always sounds drowned out, which ultimately comes down to an issue of vocal production. In comparison, Tom Linton's rasp might have less range but the vocal production done for his part of the mix flows much better.

But now it's 2013, and Jimmy Eat World have been active for over nineteen years - surely on their most recent album Damage they will have figured out the vocal production balance, right?