"Bring Your Own Stereo" (Island; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

What do you make of a band in which the principal aim is to confuse people? Well, you just sit back and don't make any judgments. Jimmie's Chicken Shack covers a lot of ground on their sophomore release "Bring Your Own Stereo." That's an apt title as the disc branches through a lot of musical territory between gruff rockers, sweet ballads, humor filled ditties, and radio-friendly pop tunes. Although the band's lineup has changed over the years the approach in providing delectable music hasn't.

Having already hit the radio with their hit "High" and exposure on MTV from their 1997 debut "Pushing The Salmanilla Envelope" Jimmie's Chicken Shack are poised for success by continuing their melodic rock-pop brand of animated music. Jimmie's Chicken Shack add elements of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Ministry, the Beach Boys, and the Grateful Dead into an eclectic pop and rock mix that they can call their very own. Lyrically, the disc is purposefully vague and lets the listener apply their own experiences to the words; as a consequence I have tried to avoid interpret the lyrics of Jimmie's Chicken Shack - all interpretations are mine and mine alone.

Although it would be foolish to classify Jimmie's Chicken Shack as metal or hard rock there are many hard-hitting tunes worthy of inclusion on the Rough Edge mantle. Jimmie's Chicken Shack have a knack for constructing well thought out, rollicking tunes that infuse melody into every nook and cranny.

The first track is a perfect set-up for the rest of the disc.  "Spiraling" combines acoustic guitars and heavy distortion in an anthem-like song that asks the question "where will it take me"? The answer is evident in the rest of the songs that provide a kaleidoscope of musical gems.

The melodic sing-along of "Lazy Boy Dash" follows and if you're not singing and tapping your toes to this song you might as well be on life support. The third track, "Do Right," has already garnered national exposure on MTV's Buzz Bin - "Do Right" has an infectious reggae influence. "String Of Pearls," an ode to the woes of love, really kicks despite the fact that the supple energy is provided only by acoustic guitars while evoking the reggae spirit of Bob Marley.

"Ooh" picks up the pace while keeping the band's melodic sensibilities intact. "Let's Get Flat" brings the proceedings to a slow burn relying more on funky bass lines and simple beats to exude its plea for honesty.

"Trash" comes close to hard rock as it thumps its way to a bombastic performance with a touch of electronic beats that fills out the band's sound. "Fill In The Blank" adds a pop touch to desperation with a song that is primed to follow "Do Right" to national exposure with a catchy vocal melody.

"Face It" rocks in a reckless sort of way as it provides a message of inner-strength to deal with our problems. "Silence Again" keeps a steady beat while adding cascading melodic touches atop the crunch of the guitars.

"Pure" has all the markings of a hit; the droning beat of "Pure" is not too heavy, but supplies enough motion to keep the momentum of the disc flowing. "Waiting" also has pop flourishes and quick beats with the drama of anticipation as its lyrical backdrop. "30 Days" closes out the disc in a quiet way with a acoustic driven pop ballad that details the beautiful risks of relationships.

Is this metal? No. Is this hard rock? Not quite. Is this grunge? Thankfully, no; the record is grunge-free. What "Bring Your Own Stereo" has is a delicious slice of rock and pop that keeps things positive and flowing. The hard rock stylings of "Spiraling," "Ooh," and "Fill In The Blank" really make the disc stand out and be worthy of inclusion to the roster of bands that Rough Edge reviews.

If you like a band that can translate their live performances into records that jump through the speakers toward instant party mode you will get a kick out of Jimmie's Chicken Shack. Although Jimmie's Chicken Shack is like the wise-ass little kid brother who always seems to sticking his neck where it doesn't belong you still love the guy.

However, I hear a bit of the tough melodies of Soul Asylum and the maturity of King's X. Jimmie's Chicken Shack is the first in what is likely to be a long line of Maryland-based bands that will make waves on the national scene.

"Bring Your Own Stereo" was produced by Jim Wirt (who has worked with Incubus and Sprung Monkey), with mixing assistance from Tom Lord-Alge (Marilyn Manson, Hole, Limp Bizkit) and Chris Lord-Alge (Rob Zombie, Buck O Nine, Zebrahead).

Jimmie's Chicken Shack is Jimi Haha on guitars and vocals, Che' Lemon on bass, Double D on guitars, and Sipple on drums. There are many contributors to the Jimmie Chicken Shack sound on this disc; far too many to mention in a review anyway. Collaboration is an essential ingredient to the organic stew that Jimmie's Chicken Shack concocts as a healthy part of their diet.

For more information check out http://www.jimmieschickenshack.com and get fowl.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.