We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Leaving Atlanta by Gentleman Jesse (out now on Douchemaster)
Press play if you like: Early Nick Lowe; the first two Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers albums; songs about girls and muggings with bouncy guitars and tight harmonies
Some background: Power-pop fanatics still hungry for new bands to obsess over went wild over the self-titled 2008 debut by Atlanta outfit Gentleman Jesse And His Men. Highlighted by loud, jangly, yet also brisk and clean-sounding guitars, and the spirited vocals and unerringly melodic sensibility of frontman Jesse Smith, Gentleman Jesse And His Men was both a throwback to late-’70s bands like The Nerves and Shoes and a thoroughly vibrant and life-affirming pop-rock LP in its own right. After a few 7-inch releases, Gentleman Jesse is finally back with his second full-length, Leaving Atlanta, and it’s even sharper and more appealing than the first record. Apparently Smith endured some hardships between albums, including an incident where he was mugged and beaten while trying to help two strangers change a tire. (The “gentleman” part of his name isn’t just for show.) But that angst hasn’t carried over to the album in any obvious way, as Leaving Atlanta is every bit as rousing as the first record. Still backed ably by His Men, Gentleman Jesse delves deeper into pure rock ’n’ roll on Atlanta, balancing his usual power pop, like the blazing “We Got To Get Out Of Here” and the bittersweet “Careful What You Wish For,” with rootsier numbers like the organ-powered “Take It Easy On Me.”
Try this: There’s not a bum track on Leaving Atlanta, but the opening song “Eat Me Alive” is particularly powerful, with Smith shouting about looking for a place to survive (the most explicit reference to the mugging incident) as The Men bash out hyperdriven Merseybeat behind him.