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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Gentle Reminder

Get the new @thejealoussound record today. Mid-life heartbreak, bleary-eyed optimism, and the power of palm muting. A hands down classic.

So went a tweet by my friend Trevor on January 31st. I knew who the Jealous Sound was, especially since I had seen them play before, once with Spitalfield and the other with Sunny Day Real Estate. In those prior encounters, the band was not my focus of attention. But there were part of important moments for me, like meeting Adam Wade for the first time and finally seeing the original Sunny Day Real Estate lineup.

Keeping Trevor's suggestion in mind, I decided to check out A Gentle Reminder. Deeply taken by a handful of its songs, especially with lyrics like "We all can change when it's time to change," "I can't do this on my own," and "You're breaking your back to be alone." And while that might sound like simple break-up prose, Blair Shehan's vocals make these lyrics incredibly personal without sounding weak or teary-eyed.

With the band now a priority in my regular listening habits, I caught their set at Lola's last night. The atmosphere felt absolutely fitting with a small gathering of 25-30 people, including some friends of mine that I had not seen in a long time. Standing in front of me was a couple who couldn't keep their hands off each other. Right in my view of Blair were these two, clearly enjoying being together, while I heard tales of heartbreak, strain, and hope by a thread. How's that for a not-so gentle reminder?

The band sounded much more powerful live, especially with drummer Bob Penn. He punished his large kit and his arms, making every little loud-quiet dynamic more pronounced. And Blair as a frontman is extremely captivating. He might look like an extra from Alien 3 with his bald head and piercing, dark eyes, but he was very open, conversational, and friendly with the crowd between songs.

Starting the set with some of the band's strongest work to date -- "Beautiful Morning," "Hope for Us," and "Got Friends" -- was smart. And while they didn't play the standout "Change You," their hour-plus set was highly satisfying. Definitely something I glad I didn't miss.

This has left me wondering if I've seen the best show I'll see all year. Well, it's definitely the most personal. And we're only in February.

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