[Jebediah and Jimmy Eat World Go Halvsies]

Amanda Fazzone

Jimmy Eat World has cornered the market on soundtrack-ready indie rock. Their tunes are emotive, catchy, complex - and they stay in your head just long enough to be an effective marketing tool. The former Capitol Records band nabbed spots on soundtracks of coveted 'tween market hotspots "The Time of Your Life" (FOX's now-defunct Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle) and the Drew Barrymore flick Never Been Kissed.
So if you haven't heard of Arizona quartet Jimmy Eat World or Australian double platinum-selling tourmates Jebediah, stop kvetching to your friends about the reproachable lack of innovation in boy-band-pop-princess-hip-huckster corporate radio. It’s time to buy some good, old-fashioned independent rock.

The two bands have released a six-song split CD/EP and 10" on indie label Big Wheel Recreation, appropriately entitled Jebediah & Jimmy Eat World. Besides having both played with Blink-182, the bands have enough in common to make the plaintive head banging of J.E.W.'s first three songs flow seamlessly into Jebediah’s Aussie rawk.

Track one, Jimmy Eat World’s "The Most Beautiful Things," is a luscious slow ballad, evoking the kind of emotions you’ve come to expect in a romantic comedy when the lovers have found themselves separated by fate or injustice. That is, until lead singer Jim Adkins’ mournful pleas are echoed by insistent electric guitars and undecipherable high-pitched pleas. And just when you think you’ve figured them out, a gorgeous, soaring chorus is interrupted yet again by the repetition of the symbolic final line: "run away from everything."

The most radio friendly song on the CD, "No Sensitivity," balances between a relaxed, mellow, guitar riff that could easily appear on any Hootie track and the yell of a shaky, tenuous "whoa oh," which rings with a delicate, romantic sensitivity. When the chorus explodes, "Taking my kisses back from you/I want my kisses back from you," J.E.W. reaches its emotional and musical climax. Echoing "you you you you," "No Sensitivity" transcends indie rock head bopping complacency and drives with ardor toward a strong, melancholy finish.

J.E.W.'s third song, "Cautioners," lacks the catchiness of the first two, but benefits from interesting innovations like a well-placed crash cymbal, subtle harmonies and multi-layered guitars.

Jebediah is sheer caffeine on the fourth track, "Animal," showcasing guitarist Kevin Mitchell’s nasal, yet irresistibly catchy croon over lyrics we can only assume are a grand sexual metaphor: "Make the most of opportunity/cause nothin’s free," and then later, "Oh, I’m insufferable when I’m in heat/it's my animal/my animal..."

Jebediah, who has played with such illustrious American acts as the Foo Fighters, Blink-182 and Weezer, prove their chops on "Animal," but quickly change gears for "The Less Trusted Pain Remover," a slower, pop pseudo-ballad that evolves into an infectious chorus. Though lacking the momentum of "Animal," "Less Trusted" shows the band's sensitive side without letting down its rock-encrusted exterior.

Jebediah's final song is "Harpoon," an Oasis-style track (complete with chimes!) that sustains rhythm and momentum but suffers from the repetition of its clichéd Brit poppy chorus ("like a harpoon in my heart") - hard to say if it's tongue-in-cheek or heart-on-sleeve. A brief, gorgeous guitar melody saves the song, but Mitchell's voice becomes tedious until the song’s culmination in a few broad, acoustic brush strokes.

In all, the six songs are an excellent introduction to two of today's hottest indie acts. If you can tear yourself away from mainstream radio long enough, you just might find yourself exploring the countless other releases from these prolific bands.

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