Review Summary: A emotional and youthful journey of "screamo" proportions.2 of 3 thought this review was well written
So you think your new Devin Townsend record leaks of glorious emotion? The pinnacle of your lyrical appreciation is Tool's "Lateralus"? The most engaging live band you have ever seen is The Mars Volta? Welp, congratulations on being a typical white male. But no need to be self-conscious, I'm here to inform you of a band that'll give you all the respect and knowledge you need to seem like a sophisticated individual. Plus, this band is really ***ing weird so you'll garnish some praise from those indie kids jerking off to the new leak of "Neon Bible". The name of the band is Jerome's Dream and the release I'll be discussing compiles their complete discography. Yeah, Jerome's isn't the kind of band that makes you collect all of their 50 pressed vinyl releases. No, they are willing to throw all of their recorded efforts, including demos and live performances, onto one all-inclusive, career-spanning disc. Now that we know JD is all about their fan’s happiness, let's imagine their live show. Imagine fifty-second spurts of technicality in the form of screamo-based math rock with wails of emotion heard clearly without a microphone. Sure, Omar and Cedric sure know how to dance, but JD's vocalist Jeff Smith was reportedly known for coughing up masses of blood during his performances from the stress of his vocal technique. If that's not devotion to a sound, I really don't know what is. In terms of ethics of the band, you wouldn’t have seen them spotlighting any arenas, no. Jerome's Dream was a band that played anywhere they could for whoever they could. Perhaps a testament to this fact is that one of the only remaining videos of their live performance was shot at a skate park, the band playing with a ramp for a stage. Jerome's Dream’s legacy is in a sense the perfect encapsulation of everything that is youth -- Fiercely independent, fiercely aggressive, and emotionally over the top. Jerome’s Dream was one of the best bands that have ever emerged from the genre of "screamo", and in my opinion the music scene at large.
I guess before I start discussing the actual album I should first discuss Jerome's Dream’s sound. First off, forget everything you know about "screamo:" this isn't your typical record. Imagine combining the doom aggression of crust bands like His Hero is Gone with the passionate stylings of Orchid and you have a sense of what the rhythm section of this group sounds like. Even then, JD's drummer is as spastic and tight as a combination of those two bands. Guitarist Nick runs through an ever changing list of influences from straight up spazz rock to post-rock sections resembling Slint or any of the other early 90s post-rock dynamos. In a sense, the actual hardcore element isn't very prevalent in Jerome's music. At the same time, however, it is. The point I'm trying to get across is that they are an entirely unique band that combines a slew of underground genres into one solid block of noise that is at times offensive, and at times delicate. Then there are Jeff's vocals, some of the most inhuman noises I've ever heard (sans the Presents EP which represents the first tracks on this record). Jerome's Dream's lyrics resemble Off Minor's or Minutemen's in the sense that they are simple cuts of knowledge that resemble haikus. They are brilliantly written and part of the reason I adore the band so much. Brilliant lines like "so let's keep playing that song / the one that ends it all. " are found in nearly every song.
The first few tracks on "Completed" come from the "Presents" EP, which features an entirely different sound than the rest of Jerome's Dream's recordings. First off, Jeff apparently had lost his voice by this recording, and so instead of his typical yelp you hear some weird talk/yell sound that is heavily distorted. After the track "Double Who? Double You!" we are thrown into the realm of what Jerome's Dream truly sounds like. Most of the work the band released was apparently produced by Kurt Ballou, so his dense and analogy style is all over the band. The guitars go from being chunky and heavy to airy and beautiful, and the vocals are recorded in a way similar to Gospel's on "The Moon Is A Dead World." The vocals are present, but they are not very prevalent in the mix. The most easily comparable band in my mind, in terms of actual styling of the record, though not sonically in any way, is the Minutemen. The songs are quick, similar, and all seem to represent the same type of pissed off attitude. With the Minutemen this was usually accented with political undertones, while with Jerome's Dream the songs are burning with the fury of youth. Even the titles of the songs reek of high school with tracks like "Just Down The Hall From Room 526," and the spoken word intro of "Remember The Sea Of Tranquility." Every song on this album deals with some repressive idea of youth, and it is obvious the band is seeking a form of solace and release through their music. For those who connect with the band, myself included, this same solace is released through simply listening to such personal and emotive tales.
The only problem I see with this album is the same problem I have with most discographies: it is not very fluid. Since the songs found here are taken from various albums, you have songs interjecting into each other that don't represent the original intended flow. This issue is miniscule in my mind because of the shortness of Jerome's songs, but I can see it being an issue to some listeners.
"Completed" is an excellent reflection of youth and probably one of the best "screamo" records I've ever heard. Their desire to be original and inventive and their sheer talent helped the band achieve a one-of-a-kind sound that has yet in my mind to be matched in its sincerity and technicality. So, pick up "Completed" and maybe instead of complaining about how "there was a time when the pieces fit," you'll actually be able to see some of your own emotion in the words and rhythms of such a personal band. Or maybe I'm alone in my strange relation to this bizarre ensemble of noise and screams.