CD Reviews: Schooled in Victory, Jimmy, Kenna and LeAnn |

CD Reviews: Schooled in Victory, Jimmy, Kenna and LeAnn

Daily Staff ReportsVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the DailySchooled in Victory's newest release is "Snapshot Of An Era."

(NormaL.)Every once in a while, a band fooling around in anonymous bedrooms and bars somewhere in the great middle of America emerges with a homemade slice of greatness. Kansas Citys Schooled In Victory accomplish just that with Snapshot of an Era: Steeped in the hardworking, musically rigorous acumen of their Midwest-rock outpost hometown, Snapshot blends rhythmic, cathartic rock with delicate melodies and healthy doses of atmosphere.Schooled In Victory is almost entirely comprised of members from The Storied Northwest, an unbelievable Kansas-City diamond-in-the-rough that couldnt really seem to break out of its location or circumstances. While SIV doesnt quite match The Storied Northwests epic scope and propulsive hooks, they come close, and both bands still sound like close brothers. Staring Through Squares kicks off the album with a groovy, almost bouncy chorus and an explosive finale. Here as on other songs, the band takes Swervedrivers sonic wash and filters it through a Foo Fighters-like sensibility to hone in on hooks for the ladies. Walking On Strings takes a gorgeous, serpentine melody from singer Nick Cline and weaves it in and out of BRandon Lott and David Whites melancholy, twisting guitar lines. The pair match and build their parts in trilling patterns, similar to post-rock bands like Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky. The big difference is they havent the time to dawdle over ten minutes, so they push their songs to quicker, more satisfying conclusions.Bassist Q and drummer Justin Tricomi are boons to Schooled in Victory; their virtuosic performance on Rise Of The Butterflies alone turns what would be simply an awesome rock song into an epic centerpiece. But Cline is the secret weapon here: He possesses an entirely unique, almost feminine voice that remains keenly powerful even while cooing softly. His vocal parts are complex without seeming so, and addictive enough that youll find them floating to the front of your cortex days later.For now, Schooled In Victory are still trucking away in K.C., but this official release and an imminent tour seem to promise greater things for a seasoned, hungry band. On the back of an album as strong as Snapshot of An Era, they will have earned whatever victory comes their way. Ted Alvarez, Daily Correspondent

InterscopeMesa, Ariz., quartet Jimmy Eat World has always been a reluctant standard-bearer for the emo brand of alternative rock. With Chase This Light, its first full-length album in three years, the band stages a passive-aggressive rebellion against the tag.Musically, Jimmy Eat Worlds recipe is simple and effective: Start with persistent, locomotive drum beats, add layer upon layer of throbbing guitar riffs and top it off with howling vocal harmonies. On each track, power chords urgently build toward a satisfying crescendo, without lapsing into soft rock.Usually, the bands collective songwriting process suffuses this mix with complex themes and reasonably profound, impassioned observations. But Chase This Light is like the sensitive guy who tries to act tough by getting a tattoo and turning up his amp. Although the effort is earnest, its difficult to tell one emotion from another from the romantic optimism of the title track to the frustrated pessimism of Feeling Lucky, everything rocks, but nothing resonates.By taking the emo out of the groups formula, Jimmy Eat World has reduced itself to (at best) hollow alt-rock or (at worst) shallow alt-punk. Chase This Light only proves that because the band is going to be categorized anyway, it ought to do what it does best. Jason Hammersla, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

InterscopeHis first album, 2003s New Sacred Cow, was a critical success but a commercial disappointment. So Kenna responded by taking a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro to have a talk with God about what to do next. He didnt quite reach the summit, but the journey reaffirmed that the Ethiopian-born, Virginia Beach-raised singer was no ordinary artist something his remarkable fusion of new wave and futuristic R&B had already proved.But how to help it reach more listeners? Kennas childhood friends, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes, are on hand for his sophomore outing, and have given his already sleek sound an irresistible sheen, one reinforced by the successes of dance-punk acts such as Bloc Party and the Rapture. If Kennas face doesnt get seen, following the arena-sized choruses of anthems such as Daylight and Baptized in Blacklight, its hard to imagine what else would do the trick.Still, he remains a singular performer, one who cant be overwhelmed by the usual Neptunes production. Williams typically sparse Loose Wires sounds simultaneously like Kennas surefire smash how could that Michael Jackson-inspired hook miss? and the proof, thanks to its android-crooning verses, that the world will only see Kennas face on his own, refreshingly distinctive, terms. Dan LeRoy, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

CurbLeAnn Rimes career has taken so many twists and turns in the last decade, it is easy to forget that the singer who ascended from small-town Texas with a 6-million selling album at age 13 has only recently turned 25. She has bounced between genres last year she released an album of pop tunes exclusively in Europe but lands primarily in the realm of high-polish country rock with Family, a carefully manicured, but still lively assortment that highlights her substantial vocal strengths.Rimes has grown into her voice, the belting end of which is nearly monolithic. Yet she still sounds full of earthy presence and personality on the powerhouse hook of Nothin Better To Do, and injects ready urgency into the rambling mix of rock and backwoods swell on the feisty title track.The flexible nature of her sound is heard in the blues-edged sway of One Day Too Long and the sweeping, hook-heavy burst of longing on Fight, but she finds the most becoming textures when she embraces down-home flavors in the driving romp Upper Hand. She is prone to embracing tunes so disposable that they should be beneath her notice, but the melodic richness she showers on even the most lackluster lyrics makes for interesting listening. Thomas Kintner, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

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