Monday, April 27, 2009

Album Review: A Jimenez Most Super

In the summer and early fall of 2006, I searched for publications to which I could reasonably pitch an article about a hot new band out of Dublin, Ireland. Finding such publications was difficult enough, but actually pitching the article led to nothing but unanswered e-mails and one automated rejection letter. I got fed up, formed a blog, and posted the article there. Of course, the blog was called One Note Ahead, and if you're a loyal ONA reader, you'll have figured out that the band's name was SuperJimenez.

Now it's the spring of 2009 and I'm reviewing the band's just-released debut album. So what the hell took so long??? Oh, the usual......the lads parted with their record label and went out as independent artists, their Australian lead guitarist was deported and his bandmates fought for nine months to get him back......yawn, sooooo mundane.

But the guys are quite literally back with a Bang -- that's the name of the album. Ten tracks of shimmering, hooky pop-rock with driving rhythms and winding melodies. While their sound is radio-friendly enough to find mainstream favor (let's not forget that "Helicopters" was an Irish Top 20 hit), their stylistic diversity ensures that they won't simply fade into the crowd. The raggedy "Gojii Kids" has a punk-pop flair, but "I Feel Designed" is a sweeping folk-rock ballad. "Hear You Now" bears a strong 1980's U2 influence, while "Promises" adds elements of Springsteen and Motown to a modern rock foundation. Sometimes there's no telling what they'll do next: "Somebody There" was originally a somber B-side (to "Beau"), but here it's recast as a rollicking Beach Boys-styled singalong. Then there's "Rescue Remedy," in which drummer Daz Coen lays down a subtle trip-hop beat and lead singer Ronan Cunningham comes in crooning a Dido-ish melody; this shouldn't work, but it does.

There are enough lyrical twists and turns as well, as the boys tackle the existential dilemma of youth culture ("Gojii Kids"), deliver musings from a war zone ("Helicopters"), and make downright odd statements of love (as in "I Feel Designed," in which they sing, "Arrest me, I'm a threat, see. I wouldn't discourage a sentence for all of my life."). Vocally, there's Ronan's combination of vulnerability and aggressiveness, and band harmonies ranging from the depths of darkness to the brightest sunlight. Producers Liam Mulvaney and Adrian Bushby somehow figure out a way to bring it all together in the studio and make it sound sellable to the world at large. (The band's ever-so-tight playing helps, too.)

While the album has no complete artistic failures, the earnest singer/songwriter tune "My World" just feels like a poor fit for SuperJimenez. But listen to the brilliant, stomping "Faye," featuring Ronan, Daz, lead guitarist/keyboardist Rhys Domagala, and bassist Nick O'Laoire in top form, and you'll understand why these guys have the goods to do Dublin proud.

Bang is available internationally on iTunes, as is the nifty single version of "Somebody There" and the overlooked "Come Out To Play" (the "Helicopters" B-side which was not used for the album). So get to downloading, already!

For more info, visit: and read the previous ONA feature:

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

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