And The Hits Just Keep On Comin': August 2011

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Album Review:
JOEL PLASKETT -EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations.
(Released June 14, 2011) 
When some artists strain to fill an order of a 10 song album, after a steady diet of 5 song EP's, Joel Plaskett delivers a 5 course meal (with several amuse-bouches and disgestifs) to fill the listener's song-belly to overflow. Mining out some long-hidden treasures and compilation gems, Plaskett's ability to pan through the caverns of his own work, and make dusty trinkets into collector's items, is utterly soul-stirring. After punching out the time-card at 20 tracks, there's no way that anyone can accuse this man of under-contributing.

Although some of these tracks have been available before ('On The Rail' and a cover of Irma Thomas' 'Hurt's All Gone'), they are no less relevant as they are now all accessible to fans in the same location. In fact, for fans of Plaskett and The Emergency's live show, the track order of this album is fairly comparable to a lot of their set lists. I was pleasantly surprised with a fuzzed-up, buzzed-up version of 'Make A Little Noise' that gives this song a little 'umph' which the original version lacked. 'When I Go' is another unexpected but beautiful, strummy b-side from Three that features the lovely vocal licks of Rose Cousins and Anna Egge. Other than 'Money In The Bank' (which is a little laborious and overly garaged at times), all of the songs on this record are listenable, likeable and deliver exactly what your favourite band delivers every time you see them live; they bring old songs back to life.

Plaskett is making himself into something of a pioneer in the Canadian music scene as he is unafraid of the caterwauling of the critics. 27 songs are too many for an album? Poppycock. A b-side record of 20 tracks is overdoing it? Hogwash. Time and time again, his sometimes-twangy-but-always-rockin' register of songs demonstrates his love for his country and his keen, wordsmithy and ever-wet songwriting pen. 'Emergencys...' shows us more of the same but it also illuminates the ability of a true artist to give old canvases a new coat of paint.

-Matt McKechnie

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Album Review:
(Released Sept. 28 2010)

I hate Pitchfork magazine.

Sometimes, I even hate it so much that my hatred becomes a seething rage that makes me see red and want to destroy every cynical, hipstery, 'I'm-too-cool-to-be-amused-by-anything' writer who has ever been published on that God forsaken website. A great example of this well-warranted fury comes from Pitchfork's reviews of 'Bleed American' and 'Futures' which you can read here but I'm not going to get into the details of 'who said what'. Just read the reviews for yourselves and ask the question 'Is this fair review-writing'?

Okay - let's be honest. Jimmy Eat World may have sold out a bit after Clarity and some of their earlier works when they hit it big with Bleed American, but this is a band who lives to make music - loud, blasting, poppy, thickly distorted guitar-amp and drum music. In an interview I did with David Bazan recently, Bazan had just finished touring with Jimmy Eat World and stated 'Jimmy Eat World have some of the craziest guitar tones I've ever heard'. Slickly hilarious with an ironic lyrical humour, thick-framed glasses and left wing/indie street cred? Maybe not - but JEW is a band who knows their way around the science of good songwriting and distortion pedals. 'Invented' is a pure and raw example of that.

'Heart Is Hard To Find' kicks the album off with a more acoustically driven sound than the typical JEW fare and the song title speaks for itself as Adkins displays the impossibility of maintaining friendships over many years and the displacement of values: 'I can't compete with a real education / All the fucked up things you say / could not be any less help to me'. One of the most mind and ear blasting songs I have ever heard, though, has to be 'Evidence'. When the fuzz-gun guitars come in, it sounds like a new sonic universe has exploded into being inside of your brain. Possibly the best anthem of the album, though, is 'Coffee And Cigarettes' which lyricizes every post-secondary student's dream to travel. The song speeds on a driving bed of thick, drop D guitars and a straight-as-an-arrow 4/4 beat: 'When I finally finished school / It was the first thing that I did / What every townie kid dreams of / I packed and started west / A thousand dollars I had saved and my sister's two cassettes / The Dead from Filmore East and Otis Redding's greatest hits'.

Suffice it to say that Jimmy Eat World have been around and will probably still be around for a long while because their songs have meaning and emotion. Adkins' thin but passion-fused voice may wear on some listeners, but like it or not - he is the bedrock of the band. Maybe JEW were born in a bit of an emo-overkill age but they have stuck it out and proven themselves to be fighters in the bullshit of the music industry. And in a faux-indie age where 'it's cool to be folky and subdued', JEW have not compromised in their volume levels. Invented's only downfall is that it runs a little long (16 songs on the deluxe version, including a few acoustic repeaters). They probably could have stopped at 12 and made it an album for the ages.

-Matt McKechnie

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