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Ode To J. Smith Import
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The weaker-than-usual sales are an odd issue, considering that Ode To J. Smith is an interesting and mostly well-done record for the band. The sound on the record is much more aggressive and edgy than previous Travis albums, recalling classic post punk and garage rock acts such as The Ramones, as well as some newer favorites like The Strokes and The White Stripes. A restrained touch on guitar effects and the occasional haggard scream make this a fairly interesting and dynamic record, especially for a band that, like its contemporaries Coldplay and Keane, is constantly at risk of becoming just another stale adult alternative band. I think I even heard some banjo on "Last Words," which must be a first. Ode To J. Smith manages to negotiate the pitfalls of reinvention gracefully, managing to sound like classic Travis while doing something decidedly new for the band.
It's a short record, but that can be a serious boon in a time when mainstream rock albums are becoming more and more bloated with filler and extras. Better to rock out for 37 minutes than flounder for an hour, wouldn't you agree?
But after this newest release, Ode to J. Smith, I'm left feeling kind of disappointed. It's not that I dislike it, but rather, I don't love it. Usually I love everything they've put out since The Man Who. And yes, some people might complain and say they had gotten kind of mopey, sappy, over-dramatic at times, but hey, that's what I liked about them!
Ode to J. Smith is definitely way more rock, more electric, more louder than what I was expecting. I'm so-so on the first half, but at track 6 "Last Words" it starts sounding a bit more like a traditional Travis album, with a sweet banjo thrown in for good measure. I definitely liked the back half better than the first.
I've listened to it a half-dozen times now (which is made easy by the short running time) and I'm just not rah-rah-5-star-loving this, which makes me sad. Gone are the beautiful choruses, gone are the beautiful sweeping soundscapes. I'm just not sure I'm going to be listening to this several years from now like I do with most of their other albums.
Favorite songs are: "Song to Self", "Quite Free", "Before You Were Young". The rest is also very good.
So, here is "Ode To J. Smith", right on the heels of "The Boy With No Name" a year and a half ago. I'll admit this is a grower. On first listen nothing really grabbed me, but upon closer inspection, several songs began to sink their hooks into me like the album opener "Chinese Blues", "J. Smith", "Long Way Down", "Last Words", "Quite Free", "Song To Self" and "Before You Were Young". The rest I continue to struggle with just exactly how I feel about them.
The sound of this album isn't exactly a stretch for the band. In fact, they still sound maudlin and morose in too many spots. Sure there's hints of "Good Feeling" since the band utilizes more guitars this time out, but really, it's not that much like "Good Feeling".
After mulling this album over all week long, I find that "The Man Who" and "The Invisible Band" remain my favorites. "Ode To J. Smith" is neither here nor there. It's not bad, but it's not great, it just is. I keep wondering if this is it for Travis. I feel they are a talented band that could do so much more, but this is the third album in a row that has been just okay. To me, Travis have the potential to be bigger, but they don't pick great producers and engineers, and the band doesn't seem interested in trying to be more experimental with their sound. They don't seem inspired to push the limits of their particular brand of music.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am a huge Travis fan. I have been for about 10 years now. There are few people that were as excited for this album as I was. Read morePublished on April 27, 2010 by David Rhoads
Without being really raw or hard rocking this album is undoubtedly Travis least polished since the debut of "Good Feeling" in 1997. Read morePublished on November 9, 2009 by Morten Vindberg
Se extraña la fuente de TRAVIS en los titulos de portada. La linea grafica ha cambiado no asi las canciones. Read morePublished on June 15, 2009 by SPKBLUE
This is a really good Travis album it's a big change from there previous albums its very hard not a lot slow ballads but its a really good album all the songs are great on this... Read morePublished on February 16, 2009 by Ju@n
Like most TRAVIS fans, I came in during the time of Good Feeling and The Man Who -- those two albums quite literally opened my eyes as I found the music and the band I've been... Read morePublished on January 5, 2009 by Coheteboy
Travis have never released a record on the same level as "Good Feeling" in terms of sheer rockiness. Read morePublished on November 28, 2008 by Sandra L.
I think this is Travis' weakest album..I don't know what all the hype was about. This has a little more rock to it..but most of the catchy hooks are obsolete. Read morePublished on November 22, 2008 by Donald Roberts
It is doubtful that Travis will be able to replicate the top to bottom quality of the Man Who again. Read morePublished on November 22, 2008 by US