Archive for September, 2008


Raise my glass to the b-side

September 8, 2008

A 2008 re-issue that has surprised me in a number of ways is the new double-disc version of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American.  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Jimmy Eat World at the time.  They seemed too popular, too catchy, too…something.  “The Middle” was something of a guilty pleasure, but it never occurred to me to listen to the rest of the album, still less to track down the b-sides.  Maybe I’m more open-minded nowadays – I’m certainly aware that catchiness and accessibility aren’t downsides.

So here we are, 7 years after the release of this mega-selling album and for no apparent reason they’ve done the deluxe treatment.  But like I’ve said, it’s surprisingly good.  The original album is polished and accomplished while still emotional and passionate.  Corporate rock this isn’t.

The bonus tracks are also pretty good, including their version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and a cover of Guided By Voices’ “Game of Pricks” – a surefire way to my heart.  The original b-sides hold up well, too, including the crunchy “No Sensitivity”, which can soundtrack my remaining teen angst any day of the week.

Jimmy Eat World – “Game of Pricks”

Jimmy Eat World – “No Sensitivity”


We’re ridiculous

September 7, 2008

At first glance, Motor City popsters PAS/CAL are impossibly precious.  The cover art for their long-awaited debut I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura has a guy who looks a bit like Jarvis Cocker.  Their song titles are long and MFAish.  They really could be your typical twee pop band, so much so that you might wonder why you’d bother with them when you already own every Belle and Sebastian record.

You’d be missing out if you made that call, though.  They’re very clever and endearing, it’s true, and you’ll get a serious sugar rush if you listen to more than three songs in quick succession (I’ll cut you off with only two to be sure).  But they’re distinctive for their totally ADHD approach to song-writing.

In fact, most of PAS/CAL songs are odd for being completely melodic and yet utterly nonconformist in their structure.  Nothing has a clear chorus and most tracks are bulked up with funky instrumental workouts.  Styles and genres are cannibalised mercilessly.  The only artist who is more eager to ape a million styles in the space of one song is probably Destroyer – and that’s a pretty good touchstone for a lot of PAS/CAL’s music.

You’re really getting about six songs for the price of one with these – and that’s a bargain in anyone’s language.

PAS/CAL – “You Were Too Old For Me”

PAS/CAL – “We Made Our Way, We Amtrakked”