This Media Jeweler article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Media Jeweler present a wide display of instrumental skill on their debut album ‘$99 R/T Hawaii’. The Californian rockers combine raw guitar textures and a general math rock sound while exploring other fun ways to make their music significant and noteworthy.
As the album’s title suggests, the theme of the record is travel and vacationing – made even more clear by song titles like ‘Passport Invalid’ and ‘Autopilot’. But as a primary post-rock instrumental band, Media Jeweler tell their stories simply through their playing; exceptions are ‘Passport Invalid’ and ‘Untitled’, which both have vocals/lyrics but are executed in strange, whimsical ways. It’s unclear whether or not their music was definitely supposed to convey any kind of feeling brought on by what their song titles suggest, but with unhinged-yet-calculated drumming and even crazier lead guitar, the band certainly manages to create a unique atmosphere.
The first track of the album is a reprise of the final track of the album. You heard that right – the ‘Looking Glass’ song combo provides the album with a very special and unique kind of loop, giving the album no real start and finish but more of an endless vibe. The opener is basically used to give the listener a glimpse at how destructive the song ‘Looking Glass’ is – with the album’s signature overlapping instrument sound creating one hell of a storm. The execution of Media Jeweler’s approach to layering simple, unedited guitar sounds is at its best on this track, as is the band’s overall tightness and to some extent its approach to technical playing.
Compositionally, ‘$99 R/T Hawaii’ is solid, with a satisfying amount of diversity in the vibes that the individual tracks give off. ‘No Exit’ starts off in quite a breezy indie-pop fashion, but soon enough ends up diving into a more fiery, chaotic section. The song is structured really impressively, as is ‘Autopilot’, which also showcases a really fun brass melody.
The song ‘Looking Back’ isn’t as memorable a piece as Media Jeweler were seemingly hoping. The track is the longest on the album, and is almost a third of the length of the album, and while it certainly is adventurous, it just seems like more of an uninspired attempt at creating something stylistically out-there, especially when compared to their more successful attempts at doing just that on this record. This doesn’t take too much away from the album, but it can be a problem when the lengthiest song on a short LP just isn’t that interesting.
That being said, when Media Jeweler’s sound is a bit more to-the-point, the band make some really intriguing music. They have an enormous amount of potential and ‘$99 R/T Hawaii’ is certainly an impactful debut record – it’s intelligent, exciting and very colourful.