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JIM'S BIG EGO: unpop for the unpopulous!

Review of Noplace Like Nowhere

Seven Days, Burlington, VT

by Ara Finlayso

Review of Noplace Like Nowhere
JIM'S BIG EGO, NOPLACE LIKE NOWHERE, (bigego.com, CD) - The 14 tracks (including intro rant) that make up the latest offering from Boston trio Jim's Big Ego provide an eclectic mix of quirky pop, twangy funk and tongue-in-cheek, They Might be Giants-style lyrics. But easy comparisons to TMBG, or to early Talking Heads, fail to do justice to the unique and strangely compelling sounds produced on Noplace Like Nowhere.
Centered around poet Jim Infantinoπs whimsical and intelligent words, Jim's Big Ego takes the listener on a journey right from the opener, "Stress," a caffeine- and anxiety-fueled testament to the modern work ethic. From there the funk is gradually replaced with pop sensibilities: the single-friendly "Concrete," the you-go-girl vibes of "Prince Charming" and the rolling, melancholy tribute to "Los Angeles." But to state JBE is just a pop band is to do them an injustice. Despite their self-deprecating assessment that they're "just another *bleep*ing Boston band," this rootsy and soul-baring stuff is not even remotely related to the crap on the radio that gets the pop label.
While the star of the show is definitely Infantino's absurd, often poignant songwriting, the musical arrangements are what make the words soar. The melodies ultimately deposit the lyrics on your tongue, and can cause embarrassing outbreaks of spontaneous public singing.
Relying mostly on pop's holy triumvirate of guitar, bass and drums, the sound on Jim's Big Ego is tight and clean, the production values bang on. Different instruments sneak in here and there: trumpets for "You Piss Me Off" and the lovely "Postcard from Cariacou" (whose lyrics are taken verbatim from a postcard sent to Infantino); a lap steel guitar on "Slow," along with an accordion and a Hammond B-3 organ.
"Angry White Guy" offers up political commentary, while "She's Dead" is all frivolity. But perhaps the most heartfelt song is the final one - yes, the one with accordion in it: "Slow."  It's a beautiful way to finish off the album - or it would have been, if a final outtake from "She's Dead" didn't ruin the feeling and result in my only real gripe about Noplace like Nowhere.
Otherwise I enjoyed the disc more and more with each listen, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to wave my glass of beer in the air and sing along with this talented and original band - this Friday at Club Metronome. On their way north, Jim's Big Ego also put in an appearance Thursday at the Nightspot Outback in Killington.