CD Review: Something Corporate leader artistic on debut solo CD

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It’s impossible to understand Jack’s Mannequin without knowing how the band came to fruition.

Over the last four years, California-based Something Corporate and its charismatic singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon have become perhaps the only ambassadors in the easily overlooked piano punk genre. Their strategy was simple: Play as many shows and record as many songs as possible. Just as many young musicians have learned, McMahon, 23, found that constant touring can blur the line between professional and personal lives. “I’d been going so full-force that I almost forgot why I was doing it,” McMahon told Alternative Press magazine last month.

With that in mind, the vocalist created a side project separate from his bandmates, hoping that the combination of lyric and melody would blend into a personally therapeutic mixture. But as work on the album neared its end, McMahon was met with frightening news. During an otherwise routine doctor visit, he was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.

Already mentally drained from four straight years on the road, many wondered if Jack’s Mannequin would be derailed before it ever left the station.

McMahon’s answer came in musical form, when Everything In Transit was released while he was still in the hospital. Not only adorned with his incredibly introspective lyrics, the album artwork is also a result of McMahon putting pen to paper. Highlights on the album are many, topped by “The Mixed Tape,” “Bruised,” and “I’m Ready.”

While many diehard Something Corporate fans undoubtedly hoped for a record built in the image of their favorite punk band, Everything In Transit has more in common with The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds than anything in the SoCo catalog. Electric guitar is merely the lining for an album bursting with consistently bright piano craftsmanship. McMahon’s voice is sonic poetry, pulling no punches—almost as though he simply yearned for his multitude of feelings to be acknowledged. Make no mistake, listeners won’t find a repeat of Pet Sounds, but McMahon’s diary-entry style is just as endearing.

In the months since his diagnosis, McMahon (with the help of his sister, who thankfully happened to share the exact same blood-type) appears to be well on his way to a full recovery. Touring would seem to be an afterthought for the indefinite future, but Everything In Transit should quell music fans’ thirst for insight into the mind of a person who has turned the corner from rebellious punk to an artistic leader for his generation.

From the Oct. 12-18, 2005, issue

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