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Jimmy Eat World--Futures

It's been three long years since Jimmy Eat World hit the mainstream crowd with Bleed American. Though Futures is the band's fourth record, the popularity of Bleed American forced the band to face the challenge of overcoming the sophmore album slump. The band took their time on this record and it was worth the wait.

Futures is nothing new for Jimmy Eat World. The album does what their previous releases have already done--make you feel like you're floating somewhere, enjoying the wonders and heartaches of the teenage love that you may or may not have ever even had.

The album begins with the title track, a weak attempt at being political: "I hope for better in November," and "My darling, now's the time to disagree."

From that point forward, however, the album does not miss a beat--delivering the perfectly sweet harmonies and sing-along choruses. Mixed with the heartstring-tuggers is a rocker "Nothing Wrong" and a joyous "Jen." Without even listening, you find yourself singing along and getting lost in the music.

The tracks on this album are a bit longer, a la Clarity, but still sound just as tight as any track on Bleed American. It's a solid record from start to finish.

THE SKINNY: Good to the very last drop.

Green Day--American Idiot

Sometime around 1998 Green Day decided to become adults. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong was now a daddy and went through a phase where he thought maybe you can't be a punk forever. The band then released Warning, a toned-down, grown-up version of themselves.

After four adult years, Green Day has returned with something completely different. American Idiot is a full-on rock opera with tracks separated into movements.

Though the format has changed, the substance of the music has stayed the same. The bulk of the album is sneering, Green Day punk. By combining the punk with Warning-esque song writing and muscianship, Billie Joe and the boys are able to give the tunes a very theatrical feel.

Standout Tunes: Holiday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and Wake Me Up When September Ends

THE SKINNY: If you like Green Day and if you like rock operas, this one's for you, my friend.

The Prodigy--Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

This country has never really been able to fully accept techno music. It's mostly reserved for gay bars and car commercials. But in 1997 the music world was abuzz with the anticipation that all of that was going to change, thanks to a British act known as The Prodigy.

Liam Howlett and his band of dancers had been setting London dancefloors and music charts on fire since 1992. The Prodigy had managed to present itself more as a rock group than a geek behind a pair of turntables and with 1997's The Fat of the Land they were hoped to be the crossover act that would bring techno into the mainstream.

Thanks to the over-the-top image of creepy "Firestarter" Keith Flynt, The Prodigy became an MTV staple and brought along groups like The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method.

America's interest in "electronica" (a term coined so people didn't have to admit they listened to techno) was fleeting and Liam Howlett quietly fell off the face of the earth.

He's back, and to prove he means business, the new LP is titled Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. With a title like that, it would seem that America would finally be conquered by the techno army. Not so.

Howlett has ditched the rest of the band, apparently to get back to his roots and to lose the hype. There is no doubt that all that is cool about The Prodigy is Howlett, so that in-and-of itself is not a problem. The letdown, however, is that Howlett just flat out fails to bring it--"it" meaning anything at all.

The album starts in attack mode with "Spitfire," the only decent track on the album. The rest of the record repetitively grinds along, headed nowhere. Howlett fails with a remake of "Lovebuzz" (made popular by early Nirvana) and even dares to take on Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Big mistake.

It's sad that we had to wait seven years for this record, I don't know who will be willing to wait another seven.


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