Saturday, July 06, 2013

Jets To Brazil ‎– Orange Rhyming Dictionary (1998)

Being one of the more anticipated independent releases of 1998, Orange Rhyming Dictionary combines emo-inflected pop sensibilities with the occasional keyboards. Despite the occasional use of wah-wah pedal guitars in "I Typed for Miles," which sounds almost identical to Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box," Jets to Brazil live up to their hype. Most of the songs clock in at an epic length while containing storytelling lyrics with Blake Schwarzenbach's (formerly of Jawbreaker) trademark raspy vocals. Mood swings also accompany the sound of Orange Rhyming Dictionary, which can move from laid-back and gloomy too upbeat and not as gloomy, all in a good sort of way though. Definitely recommended.
Mike DaRonco 

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

After the demise of seminal 90's punk trio Jawbreaker, lead singer and main lyricist Blake Schwarzenbach formed new band Jets To Brazil not too long after. With leaving on what some consider the perfect note (though many will disagree) with the 1995 album 'Dear You', Jets To Brazil were, naturally, hyped up. And before getting into details, they lived up to it, at least with their debut album 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary' (a play on how no word rhymes with orange in English). With former Texas Is The Reason drummer Chris Daly and bassist Jeremy Chatelain formerly of Handsome and now of Helmet, completed with Blake's signature voice and personal lyrics, it's as though the breakup of Jawbreaker wasn't all that bad, or at least a better way of taking it.

It is natural that fans will compare it to albums of Jawbreaker but it really is unnecessary, as 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary' is some of Blake's finest (and different) work that is strong enough to stand on its own. However that's not to say fans of his past material won't like this, as they most likely will. His emotional, raspy but at times smooth voice is as good as they've ever been and his introspective lyrical views on the world from a social outcast and relationships are still in tact. Songs range from the pop-punk inspired opener Crown of the Valley, to the more dreary experimental intro of Morning New Disease and the beautiful acoustic ballads like Sweet Avenue and everything in between.

One of the key or noticeable aspects of 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary' is the song lengths. With most tracks reaching over five minutes, the songs get plenty of time to build up, but simultaneously as a con might drag on some, like the album opener. However tracks like the epic I Typed For Miles get gradually better all the way until and final minute. The albums broad overall mix of indie, pop, punk, and rock come off with a unique twist that is difficult to describe. Many of the songs have a mellow, melodious feel to them, but there are still the occasional fast rock and punk influenced tunes, something the band is not new to. Crown of the Valley, while one of the lesser songs here, brings back the Jawbreaker-esque riffs similar to Chemistry (from 'Dear You') but is ultimately a misleading intro and one soon forgettable. Resistance Is Futile does what the former tried but takes it to a better level. However it is not coincidental that two of the albums weakest tracks are two of the most poppy and upbeat.

'Orange Rhyming Dictionary's bright cover (which bares similarities to influential and fellow Jade Tree band Cap'n Jazz's anthology album) is rather deceiving, as the albums general tone is quite depressing, but it is actually one of the records greatest strengths along with the lyrics, though they intertwine. Blake is always open with his poetic lyrics as they come off as personal, inspiring, relatable, authentic and anything else along those lines. Telling stories of desperation and alienation, to more abstract lyrics that one might not even understand at first, they are the main point of focus here and the album succeeds at that vastly. Instrumentally, many songs are filled with distortion, lightly strummed chord intros and a superb, creative drumming from Daly. Production-wise it has a clean, audible yet at times rough sound similar to 'Dear You'.

The record is not as consistent as it could be in terms of memorable songs, but there are a certain few tracks that make the album worth getting alone that make up for it. I Typed For Miles, with an intro sounding eerily like Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box, is perhaps the finest moment on the album. It's creepy intro of gently strummed chords, and Blake's passionate vocals, the song steadily turns into one of the heaviest on album with Blake yelling “You keep fucking up my life!”, the song is nothing less than powerful for the entire six minutes. Chinatown is another undisputed highlight with another sinister guitar intro and calm, but precise vocals. The album saves one of the best for last with Sweet Avenue, a beautiful acoustic love song that emphasizes on the vocals and the soft guitar that leaves the album on a memorable note.

Jets To Brazil's underrated debut is up there with some of Blake's, or any of the band member's most excellent work. Full of many moods and styles, honest and thought provoking lyrics, and a select group of some of the best songs you'll come across. 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary' could be enjoyed by not only fans of the member's past work, but anyone who enjoys honest, abstract lyrics to relate to, and some great music to go with it.

Recommended Tracks:
I Typed For Miles
Sweet Avenue
Sea Anemone

Ex members of Jawbreaker, Texas is the Reason, and Handsome. Interesting album, more poppy than rock. Lyrics reminiscent of Guided By Voices. This album definitely grows on you with more listens. It's not quite like anything I've heard before, and so most reviews I’ve read pretty much don't sum up the band. I know this doesn’t either. But I think this is the direction rock is headed, as many former emo bands seem to be breaking new ground (Jawbox, Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World). Listen for the keyboards, it's not so much a throw-back to 80s synth new-wave rock, but a sure sign that any instrument can work in a rock song. I saw them live, and they sounded incredible.

About two weeks ago, something very bad happened.
I was cooking a sandwhich at the steak shop I work at, listening to this album. I was bobbing my head, trying to ignore the customers staring at me, making sure I wasn't spitting in their food. They always stare at me. The next sandwhich was called over the loud speaker and, like the "slave to the man" that I am, I emidiately began to cook it. I looked up to see who this customer was (I was hopeing for maybe a short-haired brunette girl with a perfect smile and a big ol' butt, but no such luck) only to see a disturbingly ugly young lad with died black hair, several chains and facial piercings, and an Exploited t-shirt on.
"What's up man." I said, as I normally do to people dawning the punk style.
"What the fuck are you listening to?" he said rather rudely.
"Jets to Brazil, and could you not curse in front of the other customers." I replied, just as rudely.
"Jets to Brazil...oh yeah, I've heard them. They fucking suck. They sound like R.E.M. or some shit like that."
"R.E.M.!!! Dude, you obviously haven't heard them. They're like post-punk, but completely different from anything out there, with some of the best lyrics you'll ever hear, and please, don't curse in front of the customers."
I was begining to get a little heated with this guy, and believe me, I don't get mad very often.
"Whatever. I've heard them and they fucking suck. Please don't call them punk cause they sure as fuck aren't punk. They're slow and sad, and their lyrics don't make any sense. Just fucking stupid if you ask me."
At that moment, I walked back to the back, changed the cd player to song 2, "Morning New Disease", and replied "Listen to this fucking song and tell me they don't rock."
He stood there listening to the song, in my opinion, the best on the album, but still, no luck.
"It's crappy alternative music, man. They fucking suck. Go get a fucking Fear album, you fucking putz."
"Man, FUCK YOU. I like Fear, but Jets to Brazil is way fuckin' better than Fear. They have more thought in one verse than Fear ever had in their lives." I said, my temper rising.
"Wait a second....I knew I knew you from somewhere. You were at that party on Lincoln St. last month weren't ya. AHHAAHHAH! You puked off the deck all night and passed out in the yard.AAAHHHAAHA!"
Granted, I was there, I was shitfaced, and I probably did puke at some point in the night, but one thing I don't do is pass out before all the beer that is there to drink has been drunk.
"Fuck you man, that wasn't me." I handed the asshole his sandwhich and said "Get the fuck out of my face."
"Later pussy, have fun cooking and listening to your pussy rock. Don't puke on the grill, pussy."
At that moment, something inside of me snapped. I grabbed the spatula, leaped the counter in a single bound, and ran after the guy. When I reached him, I grabbed his shoulder, spun him around, and decked him with my cooking utincil.
"Aww, Fuck, you broke my..."
I continued to pound away as if he were a piece of chicken on the grill. One of his facial piercings was now lying a few feet away, and he was crying like a baby.
"Get off me man, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm mmmmhhmhmmh...."
Just as I began to get the spatula into his mouth, the mall security guards pulled me off him, slapped some cuffs on me, and took me to jail.
Yesterday, after two weeks of waiting in a very lonely cell, I finally stood before the judge.
"Fathead, you are charged with aggrivated assault with a spatchula, how do you plead?"
"Guilty, your honor"
"What the hell were you thinking son?"
"The guy just kept on talking trash about Jets to Brazil, and I guess I just snapped."
"Well, seeing how this is your first offense, I'm going to let you go with a $25 fine, as long as you don't let it happen again."
"Thank you sir, thank you." I said exstatically"
"Just one more thing..." he said in a stern voice. "Do you have a copy of "Dear You" I can borrow, I can't find it anywhere?"
"Hahaha, I sure do,Judge, I sure do!"
Mark Williams

No comments:

Post a Comment