Jump, Little Children should have been a huge band.
They had all the mechanics and intangibles to succeed: catchy pop rhythms, superb songwriting, plus they just didn’t sound like anybody else; they had their own unique sounds that separated them from all the other big time bands of the mid-to-late 1990’s. Their mixture of traditional folk rock music and the already exposed alternative rock scene gave them all the familiarity of the sound going thru people’s ears at the time, plus turning it up and notch and giving a folksy kick in the pants. Add the fact that they were known for some of the most high-energy, fan-friendly shows around, and Jump, Little Children should have been one of the biggest bands to come out of the 90’s.
While the band never reached that distinction, in a way, that’s really a good thing. The band’s super special way of connecting with their fans throughout their career would never have been possible had they been successful like the late 90’s superstar bands. They left a very special imprint on their hardcore, dedicated fanbase (who would like to see a reunion, maybe at the SouthSounds Music Festival) who have carried this band on in their hearts for years and long after their announced hiatus in 2005.
I first discovered Jump, Little Children back in 2010, just while trying to find hidden gems of the 90’s (I live for that.). What immediately made me gravitate toward then was their seamless flow of their music without everything having to sound like their playing the same song over and over again; “Not Today” and “Come Out Clean”, both heavy hitters, don’t sound anything alike to me, and the entire album Magazine, which turns 15 years old today (September 1st), is like that; seamlessly flowing from song to song all while giving the listener a brand new experience on every single song.
“Not Today”/”Violent Dreams”/”Come Out Clean” is a 1-2-3 knockout punch of opening tracks. “Not Today” gives us an “fun, but we’re angry” tune that fits that 1990’s perfectly, but it sounds like it could get put out on radio today and still fit right in an indie radio. “Violent Dreams” slows down the tempo and really shows off the band’s pop sensibilities. “Come Out Clean” shows the band’s ability to create hooks (“I wanna live in a magazine/I wanna go in cheap and come out clean/I wanna live in a magazine/I wanna be obscure with a girl obscene”). That song is my jam, y’all. It’s perfectly structured at just under 3 minutes.
The album then takes a sharp contrast for the first slow ballad and probably the band’s most popular song, “Cathedrals”, the first song I ever heard by JLC. It hits a heart string. It feel like Jay Clifford is singing about you. Everyone has had that moment when they feel overwhelmed and this song captures that feeling, for me, completely (“In the cathedrals of New York and Rome/there is a feeling that you should just go home/and spend a lifetime/finding out just where that is”). “All Those Days Are Gone” is a perfect follow up, slowly working us back to those heavy numbers from earlier without over powering the ear. “Body Parts” is a heavy chorus, soft verse tune that shows the band can get extreme and super loud when the time calls for it. “My Guitar” is all about the musicianship (and the guitar, in case the opening of the song doesn’t give it away) and returns the record to those pop but alternative melodies from earlier in the record.
“B-13” is a steady jam that sets up the rest of the album.
“Habit”. Freakin’ “Habit”, y’all. Sometimes love is like a drug, and that’s exactly what this song discusses, plus a whole bunch of other additions, getting down to real nitty gritty. I know the feeling far too well about love and this is another one of those songs for me that gets personal for me and loads of other people would and do feel the same way. It echoes back to “Body Parts” slightly, but this expands on that song and has unbelievable hooks, way too many to point out to single out. “Say Goodnight” is a really great mid-level tune that serves as one last kick of those rock but pop but folk hooks. Then comes “Close Your Eyes”, the final goodbye to the ear, a soft sweet ballad to a lover suffering from restlessness. This might be my favorite song on the record. It’s another one of those personal, pull at my feelings songs, and that’s probably the thing that I love about JLC. It feels personal. Like they wrote those songs about you. The connection between the listener and the band is fantastic; there’s a personal relationship there that can only be as deep by very, very few other bands can do. That’s what makes it great. That’s what makes it real.
Jump, Little Children is from Charleston, SC, and consists of Jay Clifford, Matthew Bivins, Evan Bivins, Ward Williams, and Johnathan Gray. They released a record (The Licorice Tree Demos) and a live EP (Buzz) pre-Magazine, and 3 studio albums, a live album and a compilation post-Magazine. The band has been on hiatus since 2005. You can check out more on Jump, Little Children at their website, http://jumphq.com/.
And the album of the day, Jump, Little Children’s Magazine: