Jesse Smith Gentleman Jesse took three years to deliver his sophomore effort, a process lengthened after being beat in the face with a chair leg while changing a car tire and dealing with the deaths of several friends.
Since they happened after Smith recorded Leaving Atlanta in his basement, there's a sort of clairvoyance in the music: "Ooh, we gotta get outta here," he sings on the closing track, as though urgently nodding to a friend that it's time to skip town.
Smith's songs are power pop rock and, for a record made in his basement, are surprisingly sunny and clean recordings. This isn't really garage rock, save for the Ramones flavor of "You Give Me Shivers."
The rest of the cuts are hooky, but also struggle with a sort of sameness. After arriving at "I'm a Mess," we get the sense Smith finds melodies in the same vein and mines them for all he can.
There's nothing groundbreaking or revelatory on Leaving Atlanta, but there's nothing offensively bad, either. As power pop records go, at least the music sounds fun even if the emotional undercurrent isn't.
Tomorrow's entry: Marilyn Manson, Born Villain