Jimmy Eat World’s previous release Damage was met with lacklustre reception. I had pre-ordered the record and honestly liked it, but I can appreciate that it didn’t have the same X-factor of previous albums. So you can see why fans were nervous about Integrity Blues.
True to my expectations, Integrity Blues is an improvement upon Damage. It has been a grower for me, rewarding every additional listen by unearthing another brilliant moment that I’d previously missed.
Anyone expecting an album full of “The Middle” or “Sweetness” – two of their breakthrough singles – will be disappointed. Integrity Blues is more slow burner than upbeat emo anthem album. A choir of layered voices add depth to the vocals, some drawn out bridges add tasteful breathing room between choruses, and the piano fills in dramatic moody phases.
The production is brilliant. Listening to the album through headphones is a stunning experience. Subtle moments really shine when listened to closely. Drum solos and bridging sections in various songs take me back to when I first heard the show-stopping echoing outro of “Lucky Denver Mint”.
Some parts completely took me by surprise. The stoner rock riffage at the end of “Pass The Baby” is enough to awaken your inner-metalhead. And the use of double-kick/toms (I can’t tell which) in “You Are Free” are tasteful and effective in a way I never would have expected.
The two singles (“Sure And Certain”, and “Get Right”) are, unsurprisingly, the standout tracks. That’s why they were chosen as singles. Not amazing, but not bad either. And I guess that really sums up the album. It’s likable, but not gripping. Well recorded, certainly… but uninspiring overall.
Integrity Blues will please Jimmy Eat World fans, but is unlikely to earn too many new fans. Don’t let that turn you off giving it a listen though. Good things take time, and this album will reward you if you stick with it.
It’s time to look back and remember some of the highlights on the year just been. Here are some of the best concerts, albums and films I saw/heard in 2014.
The year went by so fast. I was pretty busy with university assignments so didn’t always have time to write reviews. I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads of things that deserve mentioning, but here is what I do remember.
Although it wasn’t technically 2014, it was a year ago that my friend Sam and I flew to Sydney to see The Roots play at the Horden Pavilion. I was disappointed that Questlove hid his glorious afro underneath a beanie, but the show was still awesome. “Captain” Kirk, the guitarist, threw his sweaty towel into the crowd. I caught it and gave it to Sam. He keeps it as a treasured memento to remind him of the gig. We also went to the Broadway show of the Lion King and it was too good for words. I bought a CD of the songs of the show. The Australian cast I saw live were better than the recorded version, but I still listen to the CD more than anything else.
I was fortunate enough to tick three bands off my bucket list this year. I saw Nine Inch Nails in Christchurch co-headlining with Queens of the Stoneage. They were incredible. I even got to chat to Trent Reznor at the airport the following day. It was also great to catch up with school friends in Christchurch that I don’t get to see often.
I finally got to see Biffy Clyro live at the Powerstation. I was buzzing for days afterwards. I managed to get a guitar pick and an annotated copy of the set list as well. I also saw Jimmy Eat World at the same venue. I was considering going to Soundwave in Australia to see these two bands at the beginning of the year but couldn’t afford it, so I was rapt when they each got announced to play in NZ.
The Beards were a comedy band that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice catching up with my friend Jason from Melbourne, who was working as their follically gifted merch guy. Another funny gig was internet sensation and rapper Ur Boy Bangs, with local hardcore band Declaration AD opening. It was pretty hilarious, but surprisingly fun.
Other live acts that stood out this year include post-rock masters Jakob, pop starlet Ellie Goulding, and modern hardcore band La Dispute.
I’m seeing Shihad in a few days and I’m sure that will also be worthy of this list. I’ve seen them at least ten times in the past and they’ve never disappointed. I’m looking forward to seeing them play material from the new album, FVEY.
The gigs that I’m looking most forward to in 2015 so far include Frank Turner, Gary Clark Jr, and Foo Fighters.
Albums and EPs
There have been some great new music releases this year. Here’s some that stood out for me, categorised by genre but not in any particular order.
I’ve listened to it at least once every day since it arrived in the post. Sublime electro-prog-rock arisen from the ashes of Cog.
Biffy Clyro – Similarities (B-sides album)
It goes without saying that any release from my fave band will get a mention.
Queens of the Stoneage – … Like Clockwork and Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways were both major disappointments. Both bands are of high calibre and had lots of hype around the new albums, but the music just wasn’t good enough to make me want to listen to the albums more than once.
I only wrote two film reviews this year, but I saw plenty of great movies that deserve a mention
Housebound was by far the stand out film of the year for me. A Kiwi comedy/horror that strikes the perfect balance. The Dark Horse was another NZ film that impressed. Forget The Hobbit, New Zealand can produce some quality films without the need to sell out to Hollywood.
The follow-up to one of my fave movies came out in July. The Raid 2 was just as violent and intense as its predecessor, but with more varied and imaginative fight scenes. The sequel was pretty long, with a more complex plot. Fingers crossed for The Raid 3 in years to come!
The trailer was bad enough to put me off wanting to watch it, but Gone Girl was gripping, albeit unsettling. This was one that surpassed expectations. It also featured a soundtrack written by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, which earns it bonus marks in my book.
2013’s The Wolverine, was abysmal, but the X-Men franchise redeemed themselves with Days Of The Future Past. I was left with plenty of unanswered questions, but it was a clever way to tie in the two timelines.
Another sci-fi that I enjoyed was Snowpiercer, a futuristic dystopian film set on a train that contains the last of earth’s population. It was incredible right until the end, when it lost momentum in the last scene.
I enjoyed Frozen, although as a trainee early childhood teacher went a bit insane because of children singing “Let It Go” non-stop. Lego Movie was fun as well, but Big Hero 6 was my favourite children’s animated film.
The major let down was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. It was long. It was grand. But it didn’t come together in a satisfying way. I fail to understand why people rated it so highly.
I’ve been blessed to have such a good year. Since launching Will Not Fade earlier this year I’ve had people from all over the world read my reviews. One review featured at Stereofox.com. I’ve had bands ask me to review their music and I’ve gained media passes to attend events. I really enjoy doing this and I plan to continue what I’m doing.
Please let me know what you think. What did you enjoy reading? Are there bands or films you want to see me write about? Did I inspire you to listen to a new band, or watch another film? Do you have any other suggestions?
Jimmy Eat World playing at the Auckland Powerstation
Jimmy Eat World (Mesa, Arizona, USA)
w/ The Sinking Teeth
The Powerstation, Auckland
Saturday 8 November 2014
Jimmy Eat World released their fifth album, Futures, ten years ago. This was as good a reason as any for the band to do an anniversary tour with the premise of playing the album start to finish at each show.
It is always interesting when a band plays a notable album in its entirety. You know most of the songs that will feature during the set, but can never tell if the band is going to do something more. Weezer did it well when they played their eponymous Blue Album at Vector Arena last year. They started off with a greatest hits set, followed by an intermission that featured a presentation from a long serving roadie about Weezer’s formative years, before wrapping it up with the Blue Album. When Shihad played Killjoy and The General Electric they had a rule that the encores could only feature songs that had been released prior to the album they’d just played live. I was happy to see Jimmy Eat World play Futures, but was hoping that they would play a selection of other songs as well.
I needn’t have worried. As promised, the band played all eleven songs from Futures, commencing with the title track and finishing with album closer “23″. But then they played a selection of songs that spanned a good portion of their catalogue, enough to please everyone present.
The musicians were stationed onstage with drums and keys at the rear, and the bass and two guitars at the front. This added an interesting visual dynamic. The symmetry was nice, but the band was mainly lit from behind, leaving the forward standing members silhouetted for most of the night. This seemed deliberate, because it was clear that the lighting technician knew what he was doing. The lighting wasn’t spectacular, but it added a lot to the show in a subtle way.
The bass and guitar players at the front were frequently silhouetted
There’s something special about seeing a band play their entire album live. They sounded just like the CD, from the rousing “Futures”, to the solemn “Drugs or Me”, to the tender “Night Drive” and the album highlight “Pain”.
My one critique was that the band had a backing track of string section during the song “Drugs or Me”. This is me being purist and nit-picky, but when I go to a live performance I expect it to be exactly that: performed live. It didn’t take away from the experience, and actually enhanced the mood of the song, but I prefer not to listen to pre-recorded music in a live context.
Futures is a great album, it sets a mood and simmers away. But the following set added urgency and unpredictability to the show because we no longer knew what was coming next.
The second half of the night showcased another side to the band. They seemed to become more energetic and less restrained. Lead guitarist Jim Adkins became increasingly wild with each guitar solo. Rhythm guitarist Tom Linton sang lead vocals for “Blister”. It was a good mix of songs from various albums and the audience became more enthralled as the band kept delivering by playing songs that we had hoped for.
For their final encore the band inevitably concluded with the two yet unplayed singles from their 2001 album Bleed American: “Sweetness” and “The Middle”. I’m sure that everybody had been eagerly anticipating these two hits, and judging from the crowd reaction the band chose well to end on such a high.
Because this was my first time seeing Jimmy Eat World, I think I would have preferred to see a standard show. That said, it was pretty unique show. They played a range of songs, old and new, but I got a glimpse of the band that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It was a great night and I’d certainly like to see them play again.
Lead guitarist Jim Adkins became increasingly wild with each guitar solo