Jon Brion – Meaningless

Jon Brion - MeaninglessJon Brion recently grasped a long-overdue foothold in the eyes of the mainstream music-buying public with his instrumental score for Magnolia, but that is far from this artist’s first good effort.

Still not yet release by Atlantic, Brion’s solo debut Meaningless showcases his deft pop songwriting ability. Brion’s style made him a particularly good fit (and foil) for Jason Falkner when both were members of the one-album-wonder group The Grays. Brion tends to play more toward the acoustic, not-quite-so-elaborately-produced aesthetic, which is fine, but his best songs on Meaningless are the ones which are textured and multi-layered. “Gotta Start Somewhere”, appropriately enough, kicks things off. Other highlights include the Beatlesque “Walking Through Walls” (the best song I’ve heard this year) and the quirky “Her Ghost”.

Rating: 3 out of 4Meaningless is still awaiting release by Atlantic’s Lava label (this review was written from listening to an advance copy), but it’ll be a worthwhile find. Connisseurs of pure pop music (the real thing in the tradition of Lennon, McCartney, Lynne and Rundgren, not the canned variety that passes for Top 40 fodder these days) should make the effort to find this one.

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  1. Gotta Start Somewhere (4:15)
  2. I Believe She’s Lying (3:28)
  3. Meaningless (3:24)
  4. Ruin My Day (3:50)
  5. Walking Through Walls (5:43)
  6. Trouble (3:28)
  7. Hook, Line And Sinker (4:26)
  8. Dead To The World (2:24)
  9. Her Ghost (4:10)
  10. The Same Mistakes (1:59)
  11. Voices (7:34)

Released by: Atlantic / Lava
Release date: never released (advance preview disc was sent out in 1999)
Total running time: 44:48

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk

Jellyfish - Spilt MilkJellyfish added a new dimension to their 1970s-inspired pop sound by allowing more than just a little influence from Queen sneak into their second – and, due to the quick breakup of a very promising band, last – album. From the opening lullabye number right into the immensely Queen-esque “Joining A Fan Club”, it’s obvious that Jellyfish assimilated some of the best and most distinctive trademarks of Freddie Mercury and friends. The precision of the vocal harmonies on this album are amazing to hear, as is the hauntingly familiar hard-rock-and-thrashing-vocals approach, also inspired by Queen. The only thing that really tips one off that this is not Queen is the absence of Brian May’s unmistakable guitar 4 out of 4harmonies. Despite the influx of that particular style, Jellyfish didn’t entirely abandon their original sound, as can be heard in “New Mistake” (my personal favorite) and “Ghost At Number One”, though they also demonstrate a great aptitude for good old-fashioned low-tech rock with “Glutton Of Sympathy”. It’s really sad that the band fell apart after this one – it showed more promise than most bands I’ve heard this decade.

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  1. Hush (2:10)
  2. Joining a Fan Club (4:03)
  3. Sebrina, Paste and Plato (2:23)
  4. New Mistake (4:03)
  5. Glutton of Sympathy (3:49)
  6. The Ghost at Number One (3:37)
  7. Bye, Bye, Bye (4:02)
  8. All Is Forgiven (4:10)
  9. Russian Hill (4:45)
  10. He’s My Best Friend (3:44)
  11. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (3:15)
  12. Brighter Day (6:12)

Released by: Charisma
Release date: 1993
Total running time: 46:13