PERTH four-piece Jebediah returned to the charts and the public consciousness this year in a big way after a seven year absence, and it was a welcome return.
Part quiet-achiever, part underdog, part too-fun-to-be-taken-seriously, the Jebs have always had a strong cult following that held the band close to their hearts, even after the initial glow of big-selling albums and hit singles faded.
But now they're back in the mainstream again thanks to a great song - She's Like A Comet - and a bold new album called Kosciuszko, and it's the perfect time to browse through their catalogue to date.
Slightly Odway (1997)
AS they put it in their most recent bio, Jebediah's "sudden acceleration of status was terrifying". Their seventh gig saw them win the WA heat of the 1995 Campus Battle Of The Bands. Their 13th saw them win the national final. Quickly snapped up by Sony offshoot Murmur (home to Silverchair and Something For Kate), the band were perfectly poised for success - their brand of upbeat punkish post-grunge was exactly what alt-rock loving Aussie teens were looking for by the time they released their debut (in fact few songlines of the era captured adolescent zeitgeist better than the chorus of Jerks Of Attention - "I know it all and I'm wasted"). An energetic live show and radio support for Jerks Of Attention prefaced the release of Slightly Odway, which went double-platinum and made it to number seven on the ARIA charts. The album was packed with big power chords, frontman Kevin "Bob Evans" Mitchell's distinctive sing-through-your-nose approach, inspired bursts of guitar noise, and a love of crowd-friendly melodies. Some of it hasn't aged well (particularly sub-Nirvana rip-off Benedict), but the best tracks are classics of late '90s Aussie alt-rock - the heart-on-the-sleeve Harpoon, the shout-along Leaving Home, lead single Jerks Of Attention, the flat-out Blame, the bountiful melodies of Puck Defender and the album's finest moment Military Strongmen.
Of Someday Shambles (1999)
SLIGHTLY Odway took them up the charts, drove them around Australia on the Big Day Out and with The Smashing Pumpkins, and yielded five Triple J Hottest 100 entries, but the follow-up took them higher up the charts and around the world. Debuting at number two, Of Someday Shambles boasted their highest charting single to date - Animal, their ode to being "in heat" - and while it didn't sell as many copies as its predecessor, it did get a US release. The band had toured Canada twice just after recording their second album and followed up the release with an epic 75-gig trip across the US, Canada and New Zealand. American appeal may have been in their mind when recording the album - the producer was American Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182), who provided a slightly slicker sound to match the band's growing songwriting. While Animal is a stand-out, some of the non-singles are great, particularly the wonderfully bonkers Trapdoor, the euphoric pop-grunge opener Did You Really?, and The Vines-ish (before The Vines) In Orbit. Of course, the singles are great too, particularly Harpoon sequel Please Leave and two-chord rocker Feet Touch The Ground.
RECORDING outside Melbourne for the first time, Jebediah's self-titled record was a bittersweet affair. As the band told Triple J at the time, the material was written easily and without rushing and the band convened for a fun recording session in a live-in studio in NSW with renowned producer Magoo (Midnight Oil, Regurgitator). The record went top 10 and lead single Fall Down went top 25 (their second-best charting single to date). But it wasn't on the band's own terms - pressure from Murmur and a feeling the label hadn't done enough to promote the record would eventually see them part ways. Jebediah is certainly the start of a downward trend for the band, despite it being a solid album. Fall Down saw them borrow an AC/DC trick by including bagpipes, while October captures a Beatlesy vibe. Other highlights include the Foo Fighters-style epic Yesterday When I Was Brave, the speaks-for-itself Country Holiday Song, rockers Eveready and Ricochet, and cheeky closer Baltic Ballet.
Gleesides & Sparities (2003)/Braxton Hicks (2004)
JEBEDIAH parted ways with Murmur after the release of their punningly titled b-sides and rarities disc. It's a sturdy collection, filled with fan favourites, such as Leaving Home b-side Monument, which could have easily graced Slightly Odway. New track Minutes is another winner, as are their covers of Something For Kate's Clint, Magic Dirt's Pace It and Midnight Oil's When The Generals Talk (although sadly it omits their versions of Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf and Flock Of Seagulls' I Ran). Contractual obligations out of the way, Jebediah desired to go it alone and independently their next album Braxton Hicks. Topping out at number 26 on the charts - the worst performance of any of their studio albums - and selling less copies than Jebediah, it must have been a disappointment for the band to take their destiny in their own hands, only to see it slip through their fingers. It's a shame because Braxton Hicks contains some of their best songs - the title track is a ripper, as is party anthem No Sleep, and the guitar-pop perfection of First Time (which had a wonderfully weird film clip).
AFTER a lengthy gap that saw Kevin Mitchell put on his Bob Evans hat for two albums and team up with Basement Birds for another, Jebediah reconvened with no manager, no label and no songs. That also meant no pressure, and the resulting album is a dynamic display of what can happen when a band has no expectations and no deadlines - just a burning desire to make some noise. Kosciuszko doesn't sound like Jebediah at first pass, with Mitchell's time away seeing his voice and songwriting blossom in unexpected ways, plus an experimental edge seeps in to certain tracks in subtle ways. The superbly arranged opener Lost My Nerve sounds like You Am I at their narkiest, Oxygen sits somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub, She's Like A Comet is possibly the greatest single they've ever released, the loping To Your Door and anthemic Battlesong find the band discovering new grooves, Control is almost Smiths-ish in places, while Under Your Bed is the type of flat-out rocker they've always done so well. It might be too early to tell, but this is probably the best album they've ever made.