July Reviews for "I Can't Believe You Live Like That" by Jon Chinn

Bettawreckonize.com (July 2004)

Quote:  “Jon Chinn has put together another great record…invading my car stereo for the last month.  I’m sure it will invade yours too.”

I have been following Jon Chinn since his days in Pretty Mighty Mighty. He is by far one of the best songwriters in the Midwest. Jon has an incredible ability to create a memorable pop song. With sweeping vocal lines that are reminiscent of Bob Mould, Jon does not disappoint with his latest release – what I believe is his first proper solo record. From the opening chords of “Lying Through Your Teeth” to the final note of “I Can’t Believe You Live Like That,” Jon Chinn has put together another great record – the highest point for me was kicking off the record with “Lying Through Your Teeth.” Amazingly enough, there was only one song that did not quite suit my taste, “Stop Being So Dramatic,” but it didn’t make turn the record off. I continued to listen and have found this record invading my car stereo for the last month. I sure it will invade yours too. Check this out if you’re a fan of Pretty Mighty Mighty, Bob Mould, or The Mighty Lemon Drops.

Mundanesounds.com (July 2004)

Quote:  “modern-day love songs for the indie-rock impaired…a lovely, subtle record.”

Full Review:
I don't know what it is about the anthropological layout of America, but it seems as if Ohio produces great rock music. From great crunchy rock of Guided By Voices and The Breeders to classic punk of New Bomb Turks and Rocket From the Tombs to weird stuff like Devo and Brainiac, seems you can find it all in Ohio. I have yet to figure out why this is, but I've discovered that I have higher expectations from bands that come from Ohio.

Jon Chinn is a veteran of the Ohio scene, having performed in such bands as Pretty Mighty Mighty, Miranda Sound and The Stepford Five. With I Can't Believe You Live Like That marks his solo debut, and, as expected, it's a pretty traditional sounding rock record. Don't let the 'traditional' part throw you, though, because Chinn's music is pretty solid. For the most part, Chinn's songs are acoustic-based; while they're not ballads, they're softer, gentler rock music, often accented and highlighted with your traditional backing band lineup.

Chinn sings with a soft, gentle croon; one that's both dreamy and sleepy, which works well with his lovelorn lyrics. True, the influence of Bob Pollard hangs over Chinn--especially on great songs like "Record Sets," "Last Night" and "Lie To Me," but Chinn's not guilty of trying to be GBV. He's writing modern-day love songs for the indie-rock impaired, and, personally, I'm fond of it. Songs like "All About" and "Stop Being So Dramatic" and the title track would all be wonderful songs to put on mixtapes for a girl or boy you wanted to impress or wanted to make feel better after a bad breakup. At times, I'm reminded of the softer moments of Buffalo Tom, and this is a good thing.

I Can't Believe You Live Like That is indeed a good thing. Short, to the point, concise soft indie-rock. Can't argue with that. This is a lovely, subtle record by a great, down-to-earth kind of guy. Chinn is about as Ohio as you can get, and this record only solidifies my feelings for Ohio rock. Wouldn't be surprised to find this record playing in coffeehouses in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland; Chinn mixes quite well with the smell of coffee.

Playbackstl.com (July 2004)

Quote: “the kind of songwriter that doesn’t follow a formula.  His songs are never predictable, but after the first listen, they stick with you as if you’ve somehow known them for years.”

Based in Columbus, Ohio, multi-instrumentalist Jon Chinn has spent the last 13 years as the frontman with Midwest indie-pop band Pretty Mighty Mighty. Now, as the co-owner of Workbook Studio for the past several years, Chinn is in the unique position to document his talents as a solo songwriter. I Can’t Believe You Live Like That is Chinn’s debut solo release.

Full disclosure: Jon has been a dear friend of mine since the ninth grade and is one of the reasons I became a musician. He has a knack for writing the catchiest tunes, with vocals, guitar, and keyboard hooks that will cause you to wake in the middle of the night, singing his tunes while you get a glass of water. He is the kind of songwriter that doesn’t follow a formula. His songs are never predictable, but after the first listen, they stick with you as if you’ve somehow known them for years.

His first solo effort showcases his Beck-like voice, along with his ridiculously gifted talents as a producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist. Chinn plays most of the parts himself, with help from Pretty Mighty Mighty bandmate Neal Schmitt and members of many of the bands he has produced, including Tiara and Miranda Sound. Songs like “Record Sets” feature Chinn’s voice and a scratchy electric guitar reminiscent of an old-school Billy Bragg, while the title track delivers an Elliot Smith feel, with Chinn’s clean vocals and an elegant piano. The rest of the CD brings a rich layer of sounds with howling guitars, organs, and even a cello, equal parts jangly pop and off-kilter cleverness.

His poetic lyrics are intimate and bittersweet in standout songs such as “Lying Through Your Teeth” and “Stop Being So Dramatic,” where he sings, “New heart old strings, dissonance would always bring the best out of me/in times when I would try too hard/one-shot poured straight wouldn’t chase away the hate you have for yourself.” The warmth of his words works in perfect harmony with the arrangements, creating a full picture for the listener. He’s not really telling you what he’s thinking; rather, his words insinuate while the song pulls it all together. “Kings Horses” shows off his sense of humor, recalling a night where “the idiots and philosophers had all the drunks in tow/they were screaming and shouting about some shit I don’t know.”

All in all, it’s a wonderful CD, perfect for an early summer release. Don’t label this sensitive singer/songwriter; it’s a turbo-charged blast of crunching power-chord guitar riffs, pumping beats, and flawless pop hooks. In the same class as Bob Mould, Guided by Voices, or Blinker the Star, Jon Chinn holds his own. But then again, I am pretty biased; I knew Jon before he had ever hit the stage.