January 1, 2001
JETS TO BRAZIL [I]ORANGE RHYMING DICTIONARY[/I] REVIEW
whale's- forehead bow lies a section primarily reserved for a cast of communist who's- whos and entertainment nabobs. Astrud Gilberto, settled opposite me, massages my feet, stopping occasionally to suck on a big toe, which especially tingles when she has a mouthful of Juan Carlos Jobim's "Mangoritas" (151 + pureed mango + triple sec + tequila).
"I zink, Brent, zat you are being too literal wis zis review," declares Astrud, sucking up pink alcohol.
"Listen, baby. I know you're a jazz lady, but my readers really wanted another of my trademark, wacky, loquacious reviews," I say.
"And Brazilians don't talk like ze Dr. Ruth."
"It's America, nobody will notice."
Jobim and Gilberto come up the cherry red sprial stairs. They giggle and poke each other's tummies through the billowing openings of their unbuttoned shirts.
"Ah, Brent, Critic From The Future. Please regale us with tales of things to come!" Gilberto cries. He's really trashed.
"Yes, Brent. Do tell! What ever becomes of our hit song 'The Girl From Iponema?'" Jobim asks.
"Hmm, well, it's mostly used as elevator music. Oh, and yeah, it's in this B-movie about mutant fish called 'Deep Rising,' that has this leggy Dane and Treat Williams," I tell him.
"What horror! Is there a point? Tell me, what do people in the future listen to?" Jobim says, visibly hurt.
"Yes, what is that in your 'Walking Man,'" asks Gilberto.
"This is by a rock and roll band called Jets To Brazil. No one really listens to jazz anymore where I come from... er... when I come from, except for single, older men. This album, Orange Rhyming Dictionary, is this band's first. But the singer/ songwriter, Blake Schwarzenbach, used to be in this band called Jawbreaker..."
"Mmm, the candy! Yummy!" everyone blurts.
"Yes, the candy. Anyway, Jawbreaker was an emotional punk band-- punk being this loud, fast rock 'n' roll that brilliantly explored relationships, sex, and politics in a far third. Blake's erudite lyrics really hit the hearts of jaded 17-24 year- olds. So anyway, Jets To Brazil is Blake's new band. Lyrically, he's gone through the expected maturation processes of his late 20's. There are some reflections on Orwellian futures and the drug and artificial preservatives that are pumped into the humanity of my time. The guy's just really clever and has a penchant for penning cynical slogans like 'Be a believer/ believe everything/ you'll be right/ half the time.' In fact, you never get a full appreciation for the band until you sit down with the lyrics and read along."
"Buh wha duh e zoun' li'?" Astrud asks, rolling my big toe on her tongue.
"I'm getting to that. See, when I first heard Jets To Brazil I was scared. I heard keyboards, which got really popular in the early '80s and really re-popular in the late '90s. I thought Jets succumbed to retro- revival. 'Resistance Is Futile' and 'Lemon Yellow Black' bounce along on an '80s new-wave beat. But the more you listen to it, keeping the lyrics in hand, the more it begins to sound like new new-wave instead of retread, old new-wave.
"The album signals a whole new post- movement, not a fascimile of old post- punk, which, if you think about it, would be pre- when- I- come- from. Am I making sense?"
"Everything makes sense when I have a quart of Mangoritas in my gut," Gilberto states, before belching.
"Yeah, so, like, you just know this album is going to make tons of kids go out and buy keyboards-- which isn't necessarily a good thing. Thanks to the production on the record, an organic mein still circles the sound. The bass just hums as if you're leaning against the cabinet. The chugging guitars are just one pedal away from being clean. But the glorious moments on Orange Rhyming Dictionary flow from the slower, moodier songs. Blake's lyrics have more room to breathe, and fluorescent- illuminated air becomes a fourth instrument.
"Also, these songs tend to be the ones about girls-- love poetry. On the acoustic 'Sweet Avenue' Blake sings, 'Holding you we make two spoons beneath an April moon/ Everything is soft and sweet/ This cigarette, it could seduce a nation with its smoke/ Crawling down my tired throat/ Scratches part of me that's purring.' That's some beatnik lovin' right there. Beautiful stuff."
"Brent, we'd like to hear this Jets to Brazil," pleads Jobim.
"I'm afraid I can't do that. It might disrupt the whole space- time- rock continuum. Suffice to say that this album is a mixed bag of up-tempo, new new-wave pop and achingly graceful power ballads. In the calender year 1998, you should pick it up. It's one of the best pop records I came across that year.
"Enough of this boring talk," declares Astrud, standing up in the tub, mud dripping of her tall and tan and young and lovely (and naked) body. "Let's bossa nova!"
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