Music News

Reflections on Clarity: An Introduction

As you probably know, Jimmy Eat World's masterpiece Clarity came out 10 years ago last month. To celebrate that anniversary, the band has been out on the CLARITY x 10 TOUR, where they have been playing that record in its entirety from start to finish, even a full version of the 17-minute song "Goodbye Sky Harbor." The last date of this sold-out tour (tickets for the entire tour were gone weeks before the first show) is this Saturday at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. And it seems everyone has been reviewing the shows so far (as we certainly will be).

To celebrate the anniversary, we have asked several people in the Valley to write a short personal reviews of the album and what it has meant to them. We have asked musicians, DJs, and fans to offer a wide range thoughts on this album. All this week we will be posting these thoughts on Up On The Sun.

To start you out, you can read my not-so-short thoughts on the album after the break.

To me, Clarity is the defining album of my youth. I had made the all-too-normal transition from mainstream albums to punk rock in a short time. Then Clarity came out. I noticed this album right away, considering I was going to the same high school that half the band had attended and being in class with some of their siblings. To me, it was an instant revelation. Underground records could sound this good. To me, underground music had always been underground for a reason: It was raw and harsh, which also was part of its appeal. But Clarity was none of those things, it wasn't over produced and cheesy like so many Top 40 records I was already ignoring, but it sounded perfect.

I could not understand how a record this good was not huge. I went to see them countless times that year at small Valley clubs, none of which are still open: Bostons, Nita's Hideaway, The Greenroom. The shows were all amazing and introduced me to bands that were just as good but had not been on my radar: At The Drive-In, The Promise Ring, The Get Up Kids, Eastern Youth, and Reubens Accomplice.

Less than a year after hearing this record, I was promoting shows at places like Modified, The Nile Theatre, and the Mason Jar. I was hooked. I have since had the privilege of promoting shows and working with some of my favorite artists, bands most people will never hear. I would not be doing what I am doing with my life had Clarity not only blown my mind but opened it to the realizations that what most people ignore can be priceless, that we can be anything, that art this good could be made by people we all know, and that if we don't support art like it, no one may ever hear it.

Hopefully this tour -- accurately described in one of the reviews as having the air of a victory lap -- will turn a sea of new people on to an album that most people missed the first time around.

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Stephen Chilton