Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bobby's song #4: "King Medicine" by Jets to Brazil

Before I began writing this entry my general take on the word "emo" was that it was a fashion fad practiced by kids half my age that involved wearing black clothes, having mop-headed haircuts, and walking around with a scowl all the time. Which is kind of what I did when I was that age, only we called it other things back then like "being alternative" or "being a hood". Self-described "emo" music that I had heard in passing over the past few years always made me either laugh or grimace - I could never take it seriously. So I was shocked when I went to Wikipedia (and then to AllMusic) and they listed Jets To Brazil as an "emo" band. I just thought they were an Indie Rock band. And I hate the term "emo".

However, after doing a little more research I began to see how Jets To Brazil could fall under that classification. Especially with regards to lyrical content. From AllMusic.com: "Emo lyrics are deeply personal, usually either free-associative poetry or intimate confessionals."

This attention to lyrics is what ultimately made orange rhyming dictionary a permanent resident in my car for a number of years in my early-20s. The lyrics sound like they were written by a frustrated novelist. Because they were. For that, and for other reasons Blake Schwartzenbach's lyrics resonated with me. See, back then I was a generally unhappy guy who spent my evenings hanging out in bars getting plastered, trying to write a novel, reading existential philosophy books, and being pretty sure that my heart had been broken beyond repair. Hey, wait - I was so totally emo! It's all making sense now. All that was missing was a studded belt and some horn rimmed glasses.

Jets To Brazil was Schwartzenbach's second band. His first was Jawbreaker which had a decidedly more post-hardcore sound. Jets To Brazil, however, were less punkish and more geared towards the indie-rock crowd. orange rhyming dictionary was their first album and, unfortunately, their best. JTB released two other albums which were very weak (and dreadfully boring) by comparison and then broke up in 2003.

"King Medicine" is probably not the best song on the album, which is full of gems, but it is undoubtedly my favorite for its lyrical content. It spoke to me the loudest during that tumultuous time in my life and so I honor it here.

King Medicine by Jets to Brazil

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