In a time when powerful lyricism seems to have been sacrificed by many bands within the Jam community, Jimkata’s first LP “Burn My Money” turns that trend on its head. The impeccably produced 11-track new studio album gleams like a piece of fire opal, beautiful yet mysterious. “Burn My Money” marks an anticipated and apparent step forward for Jimkata, embodying an innovative spark within a younger class of New England Jam musicians not afraid to let their rock and roll roots show.
I played this album through twice on my iPod during one of the last pretty days of Fall, as I took the long walk from Boston’s State House, through the Common, and back westward to my Allston abode. I had absentmindedly spilled a water bottle on my laptop a few days before, making mobile rage the only option for my first listen of “Burn My Money”. Hearing Jimkata’s previous tracks only a handful of times, I did not anticipate the encouraging sentiment that followed. From what I had read and heard from others, I knew these guys were a young band out of New York that appealed to the Northeast’s Jam crowd. Turns out, there’s much more to this group than that.
For years now I’ve felt a strong connection to one of the original Jambands, The Grateful Dead. Aside from innovative improvisation and non-stop touring, The Dead’s songs are revered by their fans for their ability to reach the listener on an almost uncanny personal level. Their lyrics continue to embody the counterculture of the 1960’s, withstanding the test of time by appealing to the lives of younger generations as well. I find that modern bands in the Jam tradition have, in recent years, begun to shy away from the lyrical, vocal components of their music composition. “Burn My Money” has a nuance to it that allows the listener to comfortably split their concentration; partly feeling the beat of the music, and partly connecting to its timely lyrics.
The track “Baby, Put it on Me” is marked by spacey layering and effects on every instrument, with just enough of a synthetic sound that it works. They do a good job of meshing the electronic with their organic musicianship, which doesn’t leave that bad taste in my mouth (unlike some of the scene’s veteran bands who have their hands stuck to their laptops). Eerie synth sounds and crisp, compelling percussion from Packy Lunn (drum kit/percussion/vocals/brass/woodwind) compelled me to close my eyes while I sat on a secluded bench in the Commons, feeling almost like I was drifting toward some iTunes visualizer’s empty space. “I’ve been finding that all these things that we place value on will always be erased after we go, after we go away” sings Evan Friedell (lead vocals/guitar), as I think to myself how much I agree with the song’s message- possessions aren’t as important when you think about the immediacy of life.
The album’s banger/pop hit (depending on which way you look at it) is “One to Ten”, a fast-paced track that has a little something for everybody. With hypnotic synth lines and a catchy chorus, my mind drifts to ideas of a current national music sensation, Allston native Passion Pit. However, Jimkata’s ability to compose a pop song, heavy on the electronic fusion-which doesn’t make me want to dance around all sweaty in a packed venue filled with self-proclaimed hipsters- shows that these guys haven’t ruled out that pop rock sound. “Life seems longest when you think it’s short and the pressure is on,” Friedell wails as Aaron Gorsch (guitar/keys/vocals) brings it with glitchy progression on the keys and Dave Rossi (bass/vocals) taps out a heavy bass line. This song has really stuck with me. It’s paired with an encouraging message I’ve found myself believing for some time now- how “each breath seems so grand, when your life’s on the line.”
Although Jimkata’s lyrics can sometimes sound catchy, the concepts they speak of are smart and thought provoking. Many of the lyrics on this album encourage our generation to be conscious of how we feel right now in regards to money, rough times, and our “super fast” culture. It’s what our generation needs more of, a band with a fresh sound that’s influenced by great music (electronic or rock), with an honest and positive perspective about our place in society. Jimkata is able to space out in Pink Floyd fashion (refer to “Trunkaphonic”) and get funky like the Talking Heads, while presenting lyrics that compel the listener to question societal norms- and I dig that.
Jimkata’s optimistic lyrics and Evan Friedell’s baritone voice make for a powerful combination with a confident backbone. Although his vocal presence is felt from start to finish on this album, Friedell doesn’t force anything. In all honesty, hearing his voice almost sounds familar- like something I’ve already developed a musical connection with. “Burn my Money” is clearly lyrically driven and synthetically powered. The album’s organic aspect is smooth and clean, but it’s the electronic element that sets this band apart. Distorted and ghostly background vocals, fire synth looping, and an array of tasteful bleeps and bloops provide a real x-factor. Between gnarly dueling guitar parts that channel Lotus and galactic bridges between melodic verses, Jimkata has something seriously progressive going on. Download and donate what you can for “Burn My Money” at Jimkata.com