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December 2 2004

Matthew Good Band - Audio of Being

Okay, I mentioned last time (months ago) that this album was next on the Matthew Good listening station. Clocking back, I can tell you that I've spent most of the last four months listening to this album.

It's good. Seriously good. I keep taking it out to listen to other discs in the car, yet it seems to keep ending up back in the CD player.

Good himself says he's not particularly fond of the album, granted that it was written during a period of emotional turmoil within himself and the band. (The band broke up around the time of the album's release in October of 2001.) He thinks he rushed some of the lyric-writing process, and that the music sounds like a band of musicians all trying to drown the others out.

But I don't hear it that way. (And, as it turns out, I'm not alone.)

The album starts out with "Man of Action", a mid-tempo (but powerful) song that then glides into first single "Carmelina", one of the noisiest on the album. The next several tracks are fairly somber, and wouldn't sound out of place on Good's next album, Avalanche. There's a nice mix of rockers to round out the last half of the album (including second single "Anti-Pop", which was my introduction to MG back in 2002).

As a whole, it took a while to grow on me, but it seriously did.

This album was not a successful album in Canada, and it should tell you how important promotion is for an album. Between the breakup and 9/11, this album was modestly underpromoted. And that's a disappointment. For me, this album ranks almost even with Avalanche (which was one of my two favorite albums of 2003).

Their loss is our gain. If you're game to poke around, you might be able to find a used copy of this disc in the US at FYE for $1.99.

Jimmy Eat World - Futures

As I'm sure I've mentioned several times, I've been a fan of Jimmy Eat World since early in 1998. So, naturally, I ran out and picked up their latest album Futures when it came out.

I like it. It's almost like a balance of Clarity and Bleed American, with the upbeat sounds of the latter, plus some of the more melodic and harmony aspects of the former. The lead-off track in particular has several moments that remind me of "Table for Glasses" on Clarity.

I guess my one complaint, though, is that some of the lyrics are seriously high-school oriented. Okay, contrary to what people say, there's nothing wrong with high school. I just can't comprehend the need to take that angle in a song. There's nothing particularly unique about the feelings and emotions that go with high school - you'll generally feel them in some way, shape, or form throughout your life. But using specific high-school terms (ie, "the dance") cuts the legs out from under the lyrical meaning.

Plus, there are a handful of lyrics that are just stupid/juvenile. Cardinal rule of songwriting: lyrics honestly don't matter, so long and they're not so dumbfoundingly stupid that the listener can tell how stupid they are. (Generally better to be ambiguous or flat-out confusing. Seriously, does anyone know what half of the songs Cobain wrote on Nevermind mean?)

I can only assume that they're aiming a little harder for the die-hard teenage "emo" element. But I think it's a shame that they decided to play down to the audience rather than pull them up out of that.

Anyway, I picked up the "bonus" version of Futures that included the CD of demos of the songs on the album. I think this is a great touch. The demo versions are more raw than the album versions, and make for a great way to compare pure performance and studio creation. However, I really wish they'd demoed the final versions of the songs rather than the nearly- (and, in some cases, not-quite-so-) finished songs.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole album (I'm not one of those critic guys that can hear an album twice and make a unilateral judgement), but I like it so far.

Faves so far: "Futures", "Just Tonight", "Nothingwrong"

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