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A Song Is a City

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Album Review

Eskimo Joe's follow-up to their 2001 full-length debut Girl shows the band trying to shake off any expectation as well as the ghosts of their early releases. Simple, even juvenile songs like "Sweater" and "Turn Up Your Stereo" from the late '90s earned Eskimo Joe a place in many an Aussie teenager's brain, but after the modest success of their first album, it became clear that the group was growing up, and so was their music. After the clumsy opener "Come Down" fades, a driving melodic piano line ushers in "From the Sea," still hailed by some as the band's finest hour. Released weeks before the album, this first single signalled the beginning of a new era in more ways than one (Eskimo Joe were dumped from EMI's Modular label and then signed by Festival Mushroom in 2002). Vocalist Kav Temperley revealed that for this album, the band turned to their coastal hometown of Fremantle in Western Australia for inspiration, hence the album's title, and "From the Sea" is a clear indication of this. Bringing in the piano as a focal point on some cuts shows the direction Eskimo Joe are leaning towards, and they extend its use on their third album Black Fingernails, Red Wine. While this album is a little hit-and-miss with catchy pop gems lying next to the aimless ("I'm So Tired") and the wasted ("Carousel"), the trio have put some memorable tunes together. The wonderful ballad "Life Is Better with You" has an uplifting chorus complete with makeshift choir, and although the verses owe much to Neil Young's "Down by the River," it's one of the album's highlights. "Older Than You" is two-and-a-half minutes of radio-friendly pop bliss, and buried towards the end of the record is the rousing Led Zeppelin-tinged rock of "This Room," which provides more fire and grit than anything else here. There are a lot of different influences seeping into the songs, but the leaps from genre to genre weigh the album down, rather than lifting it up, creating a scrapbook of half-realized ideas. "Smoke" which isn't much more than a repeated riff and some falsetto flourishes, could have been a contender and the notion of bookending the album with similarly structured and themed tracks ("Come Done" and "Car Crash") might have worked had more time been spent on the songs themselves and not the production. The good outweighs the bad, however, and A Song Is a City offers a preview into what Eskimo Joe would unveil in the future.


Formed: 1997 in Fremantle, Western Australia, Aus

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Aussie rockers Eskimo Joe formed in Fremantle in 1997. Singer/bassist Kavyen Temperly and drummer Joel Quartermain, who previously collaborated in the band Freud's Pillow, recruited guitarist Stuart MacLeod to enter the Australian National Campus Band Competition and, after claiming top honors, won a slot at the annual Livid Festival as well as a trip to a recording studio. The session yielded Eskimo Joe's 1998 debut EP, Sweater, earning significant airplay on the influential Australian radio outlet...
Full bio
A Song Is a City, Eskimo Joe
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  • 11,88 €
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: 14 May 2004

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