The Jealous Type
I Blame Everyone But You...
There really isn't anything special about The Jealous Type and their album I Blame Everyone But You...; basically, it's just an average band with an average CD. The band definitely has a Pixies influence behind its songwriting, but the vocals lack the constant variety that the Pixies had. Instead, there is a continuous monotone mania, with the occasional Frank Black-like scream thrown in, which makes it more awkward than awe-inspiring. The recording isn't "A" quality, either, but what more can you expect from an album done in the drummer's basement? (NK)
(Engine of Reason Records -- 1185 Walnut Avenue, Ypsilanti, MI. 48198; The Jealous Type -- http://www.thejealoustype.com/)
Jet By Day
Atlanta's Jet By Day have spent the better part of a decade trying to find their feet. Shuffled from label to label -- most recently, the financially unfortunate Kindercore -- and struggling to tour effectively, the band has received precious little attention oustide the southeast, despite their obvious talent and exciting live show. Frustrating. Similarly frustrating have been the band's records, 2002's The Feedback that Distracts Us and 2003's Cascadia, both of which redefined the band's sound only half-successfully, tempering a handful of perfect tracks with a balance of four or five B-sides. Neither record was hard to like, but nor were they easy to love.
Happily, it is in the failures of its predecessors that The Vulture succeeds most prominently, eschewing both the unformed prog that made Feedback at once thrilling and frustrating and the weightless date-rock that weakened Cascadia's stomp. This is not to say, however, that these tendencies have disappeared -- they have merely ceased to suck. Guitarist Mason Brown distills the former into spiraling solos and an ambient cloud from which the album's conclusion emerges, racing. The latter gains heft in the nimble "Paperweights"; as erstwhile drum-shredder Tom Naumann holds down a skipping beat that might be at home with Q And Not U, vocalist David Matysiak's ever-present female foil whispers his unexpected self-condemnation: "You're drinking your life away."
Elsewhere, "O Salvation" features the kind of fat hook, so elusive for nearly everyone, that (nearly) made J. Robbins's career, while "We're Levitating," like "Paperweights," marks Matysiak's first ventures (blessedly opaque) away from the navel-gazing that marked nearly all his lyrics heretofore. With their weaknesses conquered, Jet By Day is free to exploit their strength -- bold, hard rock -- and they do so masterfully on The Vulture's title track, in which riff upon effortlessly badass riff yields to chugging double-time, capped with a curse spat by Matysiak that anchors the record's brash sensibility. That's rock and roll.
This record is a leap forward for Jet By Day in terms of artistic maturity. But despite my comments above, I might be willing to accept the old weaknesses if the trade meant I could relive the highlights of the band's earlier records: the sprawling emo of Feedback, or the triumphant thunder of Cascadia's "Helicopter to the Hospital," or even the naive, catchy Dinosaur-copping of the band's self-released work. This is the nostalgia, irrational (I can still listen to those records!) though hard to shake, of a longtime fan; it's not a fault to evolve artistically -- far from it, it's a virtue. But it's a virtue that costs us the innocent joy of our first experiments, for which we rightly grieve.
The Vulture shows that Jet By Day are now one of the most powerful undiscovered contenders in the world of independent rock. The question that remains is whether they will be able to deliver the knockout punch that establishes them as indie-rock champions before the slow grind of time and continued obscurity render their inevitable decision. For a band so young, there is still reason to hope. (DM)
(Future Farmer Recordings -- P.O. Box 225128, San Francisco, CA. 94122-5029; http://www.futurefarmer.com/; Jet By Day -- http://www.jetbyday.com/)