Jimkata | 06.26.09 | NYC

Words & Images by: Jesse Borrell

Jimkata :: 06.26.09 :: Rocks Off Boat Cruise :: New York, NY

Jimkata :: 06.26 :: Rocks Off Boat Cruise
After being pummeled by large chunks of hail just minutes earlier, I emerged from a subway station under clear skies approaching an evening voyage with an NYC Rocks Off Concert Cruise. Many familiar faces could be seen as a warm vibe full of friends and family emanated throughout the ship's corridors. And at around quarter past eight, The Half Moon Cruise Ship set off down the East River.

Minutes into the voyage, Philadelphia's MJ Project started performing tunes off their soon to be released EP, Stupid Dollars. With some increased humidity inside, it seemed that all non-musicians aboard were enjoying the breeze on the outside deck. While unfamiliar with their music, their brand of experimental rock seemed to provide a fun range of background noises to compliment our view as the sun began to set against the Manhattan skyline.

My own personal relationship with the next band, Jimkata, started a couple years back in the college music scene of Ithaca, New York. Like most bands that have stayed in the region, a true symbiotic relationship was formed with the small upstate town. Now passing beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, I was fortunate to sit down and shoot the breeze with Jimkata's lead singer Evan Friedell.

"Ithaca is community at its finest. Its like our family, and we've had to earn their respect. We started off as a college band first and just like many before us [in Ithaca], college bands come and go," Friedell explained. "At first we were bothered by being placed in that label - and there is something real in coming to that realization. Over the years we have progressed. People have started to see us at festivals like Ithaca's Musefest, and the community really started to embrace our music."

Jimkata :: 06.26 :: Rocks Off Boat Cruise
Jimkata started off this evening's set with "Burn My Money," which also happens to be the title of their upcoming full-length debut. "Hold on everybody!" Friedell advised as waves sent the boat slightly back and forth on its axis, almost in unison to the up-beat rhythms of the song. Whether listening to Jimkata pre-recorded on a road trip or live on a boat tour, there is an allure and overall accessibility to their thematic material. Starting off with "Burn My Money," Jimkata proved how even a mostly positive track can delve into some darkness.

Telegraphed by drummer Packy Lunn's slowed tempos, Jimkata smoothly transitioned into "Drifter." Somewhere near our halfway point to the Statue of Liberty, the upper deck dance floor got thick with energy. The catchy, anthemic guitar licks of Aaron Gorsch eventually drove the band into their first extended improv with the boat still bouncing against the ocean chop.

Over the past few years, even though Jimkata has embarked on some extensive touring throughout the Northeast - highlighted with a daytime performances at 2008's Camp Bisco and Starscape music festivals - there still seems much to learn about navigating the music industry as a group of emerging artists.

"At Camp Bisco we played at noon in front of 700 people and ripped it, but after we did [this past '09] spring tour we kind of needed to regroup," remarked Friedell. "We saw that some of the major festivals weren't coming in as they did last year because we didn't have the business side of things quite in order. We didn't have another album ready, and we have to show progress in some way. That is where our current focus is."

Jimkata :: 06.26 :: Rocks Off Boat Cruise
The bass heavy "Submarine" was the only track played this evening off Jimkata's 2007 five-track, self-titled EP (read the review here), recorded at upstate New York's Electric Wilburland Studios. The resulting record was big in scope and professionally executed. Even more apparent was the band's ease in taking their live style and character into the structured recording process, crafting songs that expanded coherently beyond the confines of your average radio edits. Similar outcomes can only be expected for the upcoming Burn My Money.

"This time around we are working with a familiar producer, who knows our sound a lot more this second time around," admitted Friedell. "I think what will come across is that we have created a more mature sound [for the upcoming LP]. I think we have the potential to write fairly catchy tunes, and we hope to find a medium where the sounds we create and what I identify [with] lyrically will also identify with other people."

The foray into "Old New Tune" appropriately raised the bar, the song being one of Jimkata's more extensive jam vehicles with the boat nearing its final destination. The band thrashed back and forth in place, almost willing themselves to put it all on the line for this one. Eventually, faces full of tension gave way to big smiles at the song's climax as fast paced electronica fused with traces of blues rock.

While short and sweet, we exited the boat feeling content on this evening under peaceful skies. Walking the busy New York streets once again with music on the mind, I was reminded how these sounds continue to fit perfectly alongside the contextual montages that make up our lives.

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[Published on: 7/13/09]

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