Jimmy Eat World – Damage (album review)

Jimmy Eat World Damage album cover artIn the turbulent world of rock music, emo veterans Jimmy Eat World are a reassuring constant, with the same line-up sustained for nearly 20 years now and a new album arriving more or less every three years.

For their eighth studio album, the Arizona quartet has gone back to basics, recording on analog tape in producer Alain Johannes’ Los Angeles home.

Former Nine Inch Nails collaborator James Brown was brought into digitally mix the record, but Trent Reznor-inspired grunge this certainly ain’t.

The result is a fuzzier, rougher edge but with the same warming centre, particularly on opening track ‘Appreciation’ and standout song ‘How’d You Have Me’, which both chime nicely with their 1999 album ‘Clarity’.

That said the band have not completely turned their backs on the atmospheric rock sound curated on 2010’s ‘Invented’.

‘Byebyelove’ builds to a distortion-drenched finale, before ‘You Were Good’ strikes a mature, peaceful and reconciliatory note at the close of the record.

As always, there’s something strangely comforting about the sound of lead singer Jim Adkins‘ brave optimism against a backdrop of melancholy…

To read the rest of this review at Virgin Red Room, click here.

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The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten (album review)

Gaslight-Anthem-HandwrittenWith their first major label record, The Gaslight Anthem have gone all-out to live up to their name, delivering 11 truly anthemic tracks that fuse Bruce Springsteen-esque vocals, hard rock riffs and raw, honest emotion.

Produced by the double-Grammy winning Brendan O’Brien and with the backing of Mercury Records, their fourth studio album should see the New Jersey quartet reach an even wider audience in 2012.

Leading off with the current radio-hogging single ’45’, Brian Fallon and co set a dizzying tempo; with sing-alongs and crunching guitars in abundance. Staying true to his promise, Fallon has delivered a much more aggressive album, which contrasts strongly with his sombre 2011 side-project The Horrible Crowes.

Benny Horowitz and Alex Levine provide a solid, driving rhythm section as always, but more noticeable is how Alex Rosamilia’s lead guitar has developed into one of the band’s biggest strengths. Whereas before his licks sounded ornate and elaborate, on this record they are far more central to the overall sound, particularly on ‘Keepsake’, a lip-biting stomp that will have you fighting the urge to crack out the air guitar.

Elsewhere, the album slips in a wide range of cultural references, from the suitably cinematic ‘Mulholland Drive’, to the joyous ‘whoa’s of Allen Ginsberg tribute ‘Howl’ (which would make an excellent follow-up single) while ‘Here Comes My Man’ is a clever nod to the Pixies.

Read the rest of this review on Virgin Red Room click here.