November 1, 2001

HomeBaked Beats

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In my opinion, amidst all the junk on television today, Geico has some of the wittiest writers working on their commercials. The new ad with a mischievous squirrel causing a car to crash and then exchanging a high five with his approving buddy is pure genius. Then there’s that one with the gecko (not Geico) who is constantly receiving phone calls from people looking for Geico.

I’d venture to guess that the three local nu-metal musicians known collectively as JMJ can relate to the frustrated lizard. They’ve been getting calls around the clock from eager juggling muppets trying to find a new pair of jeans. Never a band to disappoint, the three cohorts in JMJ always kindly inform the muppets that although they do not manufacture jeans designed for muppets that juggle, they do make some dang powerful rock and roll!

Pushing the analogy even further beyond its limit, I can’t help but imagine what JMJ would look like if they actually were a pair of jeans. Certainly worn and with a hint of nostalgia, they’d have been at their share of Black Sabbath and Metallica shows. At the same time, however, they possess something undeniably new.

The power trio, less than 10 months-old, have been wowing crowds with their brand of heavy rock and metal at venues like Cortland’s The Third Rail and Ithaca’s The Haunt. The delivery of singer/bassist Jim Scott is a unique balance between inspired, calm melodicism and an emotional, sometimes aggressive, verbal attack reminiscent of Chris Cornell’s Temple of the Dog days. Mark Alamond demonstrates six-string pyrotechnics at one second, and atmospheric jangle at the next, illustrating the influence of old-school metal alongside the newer sounds of bands like Staind and Linkin Park. Meanwhile, a steady and ground-shaking bottom end is maintained by Scott. Assertively refusing to take a backseat, drummer John Nigro beats his toms and cymbals to death. Nigro, once described as “the world’s happiest drummer” due to his consistent Cheshire grin, rounds out the diversity of influences with Zeppelin, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Radiohead.

What is most impressive here is the sonic range flaunted by the trio. Their five-song demo is a testament to this talent for songwriting, a duty shared collectively by the three rockers. “Zombie” is a combination of metal aesthetics with an angst-fueled grunge feel. I would even go so far as to say that “Tomorrow” has a vague Pixies influence. As it turns out, Scott is heavily inspired by Frank Black’s work. The band has even worked “Gauge Away” into their live sets. Believe it or not, they segue from the Pixies’ classic into the King of Pop’s “Billy Jean.” If the image of Frank Black and Michael Jackson standing back to back is not extreme enough, the band describes their own sound with the rhetorical question, “What if Neil Diamond got into an accident with Metallica?” No, you may not hear Scott belting out “Sweet Caroline” at JMJ’s next show, but the contrast between his melodic approach and the obvious presence of the metal idiom does create an unexpected and accessible sound.

The band’s aim is to produce a “different form of heavy rock/metal.” With plans to eventually incorporate samples and MIDI technology into their repertoire and possibly an increased affinity for the heavier sound of bands like Disturbed, their evolution is far from complete. Even the 13 originals now in their grab bag have undergone serious makeovers, with haunting intros and startling breaks thrown in for good measure. Recognizing the see-saw between the technicality of music for musicians and the accessibility of music for the crowds, Nigro, Alamond, and Scott have tended to lean toward the former end. However, the mature sound they have crafted happens to also be surprisingly appealing. The trio is adept in the dynamics of tension and release, leading to some exciting song structures.

Also of note is the band’s lyricism. In the poignant narrative on a father’s mortality, “Dad,” Scott sings “Facing your memories will never fade/ Never Fade until my dying day/ Until we meet again/ Carry on now, carry on now, carry on now/ My closest friend.”

Brand new songs like “Fish Head” and “Terminal Illness” are evidence of the band’s rapid maturation, executed live as if these three have been playing together for well over 9 months. The band will be playing at The Haunt on November 9, along with other unposted shows, before taking a short sabbatical, during which they plan to stock up on new equipment and book more gigs at The Haunt and Binghamton’s New Cheers Pub. They are also hoping to cut their first full-length album this winter.


Friday, November 9 @ the Haunt, opening for Dog Day Sunrise and special guest.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas