Tag Archives: Clarity

Jimmy Eat World + Mark Trombino = Harmony

…or Clarity?

JEWtrombino

Big shout out to Pierre Wentz over at Washed Up Emo for catching this one. In any case, it sounds like JEW and the former Drive Like Jehu drummer and whirlwind producer Trombino are back together. Trombino produced the band’s first three albums, and his in-studio wizardry really helped morph the sound and image of Clarity into the kind of memorable record it’s become. And hey, he didn’t do too bad with Jimmy Eat World/Bleed American either.

The “Oral History of Jimmy Eat World” from Alternative Press a couple years back put a little light on the deteriorated relationship between the band and Trombino. Sort of. Trombino seemed to be really eloquent in his anger and confusion as to why the band had suddenly stopped using him as a producer and seemed genuinely hurt and personally offended. So it’s good to hear the relationship between the band and Trombino has at least improved to a working state, if not back to the friendship they once held. Let’s hope the later is true, because the magic those two entities held in their work together really helped bring out some fantastic tunes.

Advertisements

Passion Pit = Electronic-Rock’s Jimmy Eat World?

I rarely mention Pitchfork in the guise of this blog… I won’t go into great details, and I will admit it’s easily one of the best aggregators for independent-related music information, so I do visit the site regularly. But when it comes to reviews, I try to stray from their pieces. Yes, the Pitchfork writers are clearly intelligent, and are articulate… and yet, they voraciously dispense their harshest vocabulary upon criticisms of acts that don’t so much reveal what is necessarily “good” or “bad” about an album, but really display the reviewers’ own unkempt contempt for a particular genre or band. It often feels at times as if they choose a critic who’s distaste towards a musician far outweighs anyone else on staff to give a record its “proper” review.

So I stay wary of Pitchfork reviews. Granted, if one album gets the “Best New Music” seal-of-approval, I’ll check it out; Pitchfork has a select taste, and it’s good. But I’ll also be sure to take a peek at records that get trashed. After all, it doesn’t hurt one to look into a band – it hurts when you purchase the album to find out you hate it. I’ve enjoyed many an act that’s sustained Pitchfork’s wrath and many that have received their praise.

But one genre that never seems to get much respect is emo. Sure, Pitchfork loves the indie-established emo acts – to a point. Fugazi is always tops for them, Sunny Day Real Estate has done well (with the exception of The Rising Tide, though it does get a fair “ok” from em), The Appleseed Cast and Cursive fluctuate on the P-fork scale, and The Promise Ring managed to sneak in with Nothing Feels Good (only for their later material to get trampled).

But a band like Jimmy Eat World? They’re toast, put on a pedastil of emo in its worst essence and burnt to the ground. They’ve yet to achieve a good review from the site… and this isn’t even including the skewering that Clarity received that was less a review and more a transcribed taunt at all the bubbling stereotypes that were about to burst to the surface.

So I’m a little baffled with the introduction to Pitchfork’s weekly music pick on ABC. When describing Passion Pit’s Manners, Ian Cohen praises the group by saying:

What Passion Pit does is update a real passionate, really sincere, almost emo sound of the early 2000s like a band like Jimmy Eat World, and applies it to an electronic-dance sound.

Strange. He goes further in his review on the site:

Most of the time, singer Michael Angelakos’ half-eunuch/half-Jeremy Enigk voice is likely voicing some sort of commentary on his feelings. There’s an almost archaic belief that a record should have at least four singles and the nagging feeling that Passion Pit could just be another garage/emo band that traded in their guitars for samplers. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, just about all of this works in Manners‘ favor, as it’s the sort of heart-to-heart populist record that’s every bit as sincere as it is infectious– though Angelakos sings in a manner rarely heard outside of a shower with unpredictable temperature control, it feels symbolic of a band that’s completely unashamed, not shameless, in its pursuit of a human connection.

I’m sorry. What? Honestly, that is every bit as revealing of Cohen’s distaste of emo out of sheer blind-hatred than anything about Passion Pit’s music. The description that Cohen gives matches that of many a great emo act – I would hardly call Jim Adkin’s lyrics shameless… perhaps later on “not great,” but it’s sheerly “unashamed in its pursuit of a human connection.”

So why does Passion Pit get the go ahead? Well, it’s not emo for one – it exemplifies many a trait, but the band’s choice to do so with electronic music gives it something of an ironic twist, even in its sincerity. After all, the band was originally nothing more than a cute few ditties made from looped samples by Michael Angelakos for his girlfriend on Valentines Day. It was humorous and cute in its creation, and in many ways continues to be. Because the band doesn’t muddle in familiar musical antics that so many emo bands do, it’s a bit refreshing. And, again, there’s a bit of irony to bringing high-pitched falsetto to over-the-top love ditties. It gives it a twist that some may be able to stomach in a different sonic plane than in a guitar-based state. While it seems purely superficial done with three-chords and loud and noisy, for some reason, it’s high-hopes and dreams are matched with Passion Pit’s sound.

But, as is my interpretation of Cohen’s love of the band and not, well, emo.

As for my take? Well, I like them, but I’m certainly not over-enthusiastic about them. “Sleepyhead” is nearly-impossible to not get stuck in your head and enjoy… but the rest of Manners is up and down and doesn’t seem to have the same, well, passion as their single or a few of the other songs on Chunk Of Change. But, it’s nice to see a Boston band do well for itself; considering the mass of bands and music communities festering in this city, whatever gets any of the odder bands more attention because they’re from the same city as Passion Pit or any other band of the moment that’s cropping up from this town ain’t too bad.

Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead” (video):

Clarity Track by Track

Jimmy Eat World continue the Clarity + fan love with a brand-spankin’ new link to a track-by-track breakdown of their sophomore album. Here’s the intro:

Zach: The past few months have been a special time for us. During this time we’ve been learning, rehearsing and playing these songs from Clarity for our fans across the United States. The Clarity x 10 tour was the ten year anniversary of our album “Clarity.” We ultimately decided to do this tour as a result of some encouragement from our fans. A handful of fans kept prodding us to plan something like this and so we took their advice. Sadly, the tour is now over but it has made way for the release of this live recording of the last performance of the tour in Tempe, AZ.

We were absolutely floored by the response from everyone who came out to the shows to help us celebrate these songs. The fact that this tour took place would have seemed unimaginable to us when we were making this album. When Clarity was being recorded, we were completely under anyone’s radar and we were pretty sure it would be our last major label record. So in light of all this, words can’t express our gratitude for all those who’ve been listening for the past ten years and beyond. Without your passion we wouldn’t exist so thank you!

For those who could not be with us in person to celebrate, we hope this live recording will be an avenue for you to participate. We tried to craft this live album so that you, the listener, would feel like you were in the room. We hope you enjoy.

Probably best for the hardcore fans, but then again, isn’t “hardcore” part of the definition of fandom?

I’ll Sing Anything for a Buck…

Nine Inch Nails/A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese may have grabbed headlines for his unusual promotional tool for promoting and covering the costs for his new album, Since 1972. For a certain price, you could get anything from a digital download of the album ($7) straight to a weekend with the man himself, mini golf with members of Tool and Devo, and a couple of songs about yourself for a measly $20,000, which one 19 year old was more than happy to pony-up for. Call it the Radiohead/NIN/whatever model on speed.

Well, Freese certainly isn’t the only one of trying to figure out how to make ends meet in the new age of music. Freese made the idea to focus on connecting music directly with the fans, but hand it to an emo artist to make it truly accessible. Always focused on connecting with fans, Say Anything‘s Max Bemis has opened his guitar case to his legions of fans with a little cash in hand.

picture-15

All you need is $150 and it’s all you’ve got a song all to yourself. Well, sort of…

Max’s heart is in the right place, but his contract isn’t. The concepts that drove bands like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and even Jimmy Eat World (post-Clarity posting of demos on Napster and recently with Clarity Live) were/are about challenging the way music is heard and consumed in our society. But therein lies the problem with the Say Anything song-about-yourself query. Just take a look at the terms and conditions:

 

“All songs are written by Max for you. Max and his record label retain all rights to the songs and you do not have permission to sell MP3’s, CDs or any other format known or unknown in this universe or any other. This is strictly for personal use by you and your dead dog.

Max didn’t want his team of lawyers to feel left out so we have asked them to further explain some rules and regulations, if you want your song you will need to agree to the following:

For good and valuable consideration, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, you agree that Max and his successors and assigns will own all right, title and interest to the songs delivered to you, and RCA Music Group and their successors and assigns will own all right, title and interest to the master recordings delivered to you as a work for hire (such songs and master recordings are referred to below as the “Works”). These retained rights to the Works include the worldwide copyright and any and all renewal and extension rights, and the unrestricted right to use and exploit the Works by any and all means through any and all media now known or hereafter devised, either alone or coupled with other materials, without any payment to you. You agree that you will use the Works only for your personal listening pleasure, and you will not copy, sell, distribute, publicly perform or exploit the Works in any manner whatsoever. Without limiting the foregoing, you will not make CDs or MP3s of the Works, you will not put the Works up on any website, and you will not allow the Works to be used in any manner that would allow any peer-to-peer access.”

 

Really, even though the song may be about you, if that’s what you want it to be about. But it won’t be your song. You’ll get a copy sent straight to you, with all the thoughtfulness that Max can no doubt squeeze out. But “your song” will belong solely to the RCA Music Group, not you. Even though it’s yours, you cannot burn it or share it with friends… technically when you own something, you should therefore have the right to do whatever you want with it, especially if you paid top dollar for said product. And sure, it makes sense to not sell or otherwise distribute the song for money, but to allow RCA to have the power over the song and to be able to distribute it themselves in whatever manner they please is a bit disconcerting.

It’s with something like an RCA contract agreement hidden in the terms of service that really makes the entire concept kind of a moot point. What happens when fifteen friends decide to chip in $10 each and buy a song? Do they have to choose which friend gets the song, or risk breaking the contract by copying it for one another?

Still, I’m quite torn about the entire thing… the terms of agreement would invalidate the entire concept. But, Say Anything certainly has grown into one of the better bands today, amassing a fan base it certainly deserves. That said, $150 is perfectly reasonable for the man behind the band to cook up a song for you. Hell, I’m even considering it, despite the objections I’m posing. No, I wouldn’t want a song about me, though I appreciate the idea wholeheartedly; it reminds me a lot of the role of the griots, who were musicians in West Africa that served under the royal families and memorized elaborate royal histories and recited them through song. Except this is much more democratized. And the small fee for a band that still holds a special place in my heart and who’s …Is A Real Boy remains one of my favorite albums to this day. I’d be willing to swing that much, even with the massive chunk it would take out of the small amount of money I have. But if I can’t burn it on a mix for friends, what the hell would I do with a $150 song? I’m all about sharing the joy of music – that’s one of the reasons this blog exists!

Perhaps I could go with The Cocker Spaniels for my personal-music fix: for as low as $25, the band will write a song that incorporates an idea you have. Pay a little more, and you’ll get a little more (including a percentage of royalties made off the song’s sales), and all the proceeds go to sustaining the musicians themselves, which is what the entire concept behind all of these new experiments with setting-your-music-prices is supposed to be about – sustaining the artists without ripping off the listeners!

It all feels a little too much like self-referential window shopping, though, there’s not much interest in injecting my personal life into anyone else’s work. Though, unless Max Bemis would want to write a song about America Is Just A Word. Now that’s just meta. Max, if you’re interested and want to use the potential song for some YouTube clip or whatever the hell you want, just drop me a line! Otherwise, I’ll find some way of gathering $150 to get Max to make a song about the plot of Infinite Jest (and there’s a nice way of getting around the 2 paragraph maximum description they ask for… and the book would operate as a footnote to the description… making David Foster Wallace proud as ever!)

Clarity Live

Yeah, there’s no doubt they sent this to everyone who bought their tickets for the Clarity X 10 tour, but you have to hand it to Jimmy Eat World for really caring about their fans:

 

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR BOSTON FANS

This is a note of gratitude directed at you from us, Jimmy Eat World, for being a part of our Clarity x 10 tour at the House of Blues in Boston. Boston has always been a town that has welcomed us well. We remember vividly our earlier shows in Boston at the Middle East and Somerville Theater. Thanks to you all who’ve stuck with us through the years and who still support us today.

It really means the world to us that you have taken an interest in who we are as a band. We had such an amazing night playing Clarity for you from start to finish and we’re so glad you could all be there with us. Without you in the audience, we wouldn’t be on the stage so THANK YOU!

Love,

 

Jim, Rick, Tom and Zach


This nice little email came with an announcement that Jimmy Eat World are putting out a Clarity Live album of their performance in their home state of Arizona of Clarity in full. Sure, some online folks who aren’t too big on J.E.W. have been giving them a ribbing about putting out a live album of an entire record when you can just pick up the record as is. But really, if you are a live-album type-person, wouldn’t you want it anyway? I personally am not, but I have to give the band their proper due for putting this thing out on their own and really doing their best to connect to fans with the Clarity-specialized social networking site, the Twitter feeds, etc.

 

Clarity Live Album Cover

Clarity Live Album Cover

You can catch a special encore performance of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity-in-full show live tonight as they perform at Unit 2 in Tempe, Arizona. It’ll air at 9PM on the East Coast and 6PM on the West Coast, and you can watch it all on the Jimmy Eat World website, where you can also purchase Clarity Live in various digital formats.

Update: Look at them set up!

picture-12The future is now!!!

9 Things To Look Forward To in 2009

2008 is almost gone as the New Year will arrive in a matter of hours (or it may have already arrived depending on when you read this). So, in anticipation for the number of times I’ll forget to put “2009” on whatever documents need a proper year, here’s a little listing of 9 things I’ll be looking forward to in the next year…

9. Surprises

I suppose this is something resembling a cop-out in a list, but part of looking forward to the many things that will color our near-future is not knowing what will come next. Some of my favorite things from 2008 I never saw coming, anticipated, or was given any knowledge to anticipate at all. That includes things such as the release of TV On The Radio’s Dear Science, – which was a surprise simply because it was announced less than two months prior to its release so there was not any forewarning or buildup like with Return to Cookie Mountain – to movies such as The Wackness (a great summer coming-of-age movie that could have easily been a bust) and books I’ll pick up randomly, sunny days outdoors… by definition, anything really. Now how can you go wrong there?

8. New Food For Animals LP

Food For Animals – You Right (live in Baltimore)

You read it here folks, from the mouth of the animals themselves. Food For Animals will be dropping a new album in the next year, and if Belly is any indication, it should be one hell of a package. No info or sounds on what the trio of hip-hop noiseniks are cooking up, but in the last year since Belly was released they’ve certainly mastered their live set, and if the mixes posted on their blog offer any indication, they’ve got some great stuff coming around the corner.

7. Say Anything – Say Anything

Say Anything – Woe (live, acoustic)

I’ve been a Say Anything believer since stumbling upon …is a Real Boy in 2004. I’d found so few records that made such honest, emotionally compelling, and furiously anthemic when I picked up the album, and it remains a favorite of mine. The reason this isn’t ranked higher is because the long-awaited follow-up, In Defense of the Genre, was a bit of a disappointment (but really, it must’ve been rough following up that brilliant first record). Still, there were bright spots in that massive double album, and Max Bemis no doubt has set his goals high for a record he has said will discuss the nuances of every day life. Let’s see how people will respond to emo that strives to be simply normal.

6. Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten for 33 1/3

Public Enemy – Bring The Noise (live, Pitchfork Music Festival)

Here’s the math equation: Take one of hip-hop’s best albums done by one of the genre’s best bands, add in the former drummer for one of the best experimental rock outfits today, and multiply it by a publishing company that lets music obsessives run wild. What do you get? It looks like what may be one of the best books in the 33 1/3 book series. According to a certain schedule, Continuum should be releasing the book on It Takes A Nation of Millions… at some point this year, a read which should be wonderful in and of itself. Add in the fact that its written by Christopher R. Weingarten, the former kit-smasher for Parts & Labor who left the band to pursue a career in journalism and to write the Public Enemy book, and you’ve got an equation for what should be a success for Continuum and readers alike.

5. Jimmy Eat World Clarity Tour

Jimmy Eat World – Lucky Denver Mint

This is an emo/Jimmy Eat World/music fan’s wet dream. Celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the little-album-that-record-executives-thought-it-couldn’t-but-did, Jimmy Eat World will triumphantly play Clarity in its entirety for an American tour starting in February. Whether or not the performance will live up to some people’s expectations is one thing; the fact that Jimmy Eat World are touring this record is an entirely different aspect which meets any and all expectations. This is the album that by all intents and purposes was something of a failure; if Jimmy Eat World were to tour one record, it would probably be their critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful self-titled album. However, Clarity remains a fan favorite, and after the many years and stories surrounding the band and that album, J.E.W. are showing what really matters to them: the fans. It should be a fantastic set, simply by the band showing up.

4. The Road Movie

Still from The Road

Still from The Road

I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road this past summer, a little while after it won piles of awards and recognition and a little while before the movie’s release. Turns out it was a little more than a little while before the film came out, as it was unfortunately delayed from its 2008 release. The book sent me into something of a shock after a quick gust through it in a matter of days. The transfer from the page to the screen is usually very tenuous, but McCarthy’s words have a very visual style that will no doubt aid the story’s sense of reality in a post-apocalyptic world. And noting the folks in front of and behind the camera for the movie, this may be on of the best to come out of 2009.

3. Dan Deacon – Bromst

Dan Deacon – Crystal Cat

Dan Deacon may have unintentionally thrust himself into the limelight with 2007’s Spiderman of the Rings, but the man wasn’t unconscious of the world around him as it happened. Deacon has made a concerted effort to experiment in all forms of his life as long as he has everyone’s undivided attention and support (and he probably would if they didn’t). That means crazy local festivals, crazy town-sized tours, crazy kiddie-electronic-cum-rave songs that stick in your brain like putty. And with Bromst, an album that was meant to be released this year but has since been delayed until March, Deacon doesn’t seem to quit. No matter how the record will be received, it will physically (or at least sonically) be received, a testament to his enduring ability to test his own musical will and conceptual might. It should be quite a listen.

2. Watchmen Movie

Watchmen Trailer 2

Why question this? Again, like most of the things on this list, simply existing will make Watchmen memorable. As a movie, who knows whether the thumb of the public will go up or down (or better yet, that of the comic’s cult fan base). But, barring the recent legal activity surrounding the film and its impending release, as long as the movie hits theaters it will be a success. Not only commercially, but for the comic book movie genre and for struggling screenplays everywhere (this film has been in talks for since the original graphic novel first hit stands). And it looks so damn pretty.

1. Inauguration

Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech

No matter what your political beliefs are, this will be a massive event. “Historic” to a pin. I’ll be there, amongst however many millions of people that are expected to show up and see Barack Obama sworn in as the President of the United States. Just typing that is getting me excited for the new year.

Happy New Year!

Can’t Spell “B” without an “E”

For those that caught Bruce Campbell’s latest B-movie flick, My Name Is Bruce, it’s, well, a Bruce Campbell movie… though some of the jokes were a complete miss and would have benefited the movie had they not been written in the first place.

In any case, one of the movie’s driving characters is a young teenaged boy who enters the screen wearing goth makeup, punk-like spikes in his hair, and blasting heavy metal. I figured someone might peg this kid as a representation of emo, and it was easier to track down than I’d thought. Here’s a snipet of this review:

“The story unfolds like this. A weekend emo/goth kid unwittingly releases a vengeful Chinese god of destruction…and bean curd. In seconds, the body parts are flying and emo kid sounds the alarm in town. Here’s where the logic gets wonky. Emo boy convinces the town that their only hope is Bruce Campbell, so he abducts the celeb who thinks this is all an elaborate birthday surprise perpetrated by his agent (Ted Raimi, natch!) Now, the towns-people know he is Bruce Campbell…and not Ash. Emo kid is an uber fan and has most likely been spouting off about his hero for some years now, and in a small town, that means everyone knows everything there is to know. Never the less, they believe Bruce is the one to lead them and do their best to cater to his every whim.”

I have to admit, I do like the reference to the kid being a “weekend emo/goth,” as he only wore his get up at a couple of points during the movie. But emo? Can’t say that the representation suits that staple at all considering there isn’t a single sound-byte, band name, or credence that would point to emo. But, I guess if that’s what B movies account for the culture in their representations, it manages to get across.

*In other news, apparently Jimmy Eat World will be performing Clarity in concert soon. So the ATP sensation of playing “classic” albums continues!