Jump, Little Children steps out of the gate with a whole bunch of strikes against it. The South Carolina band is a Friend Of Hootie—recording for the group's vanity-label imprint, Breaking Records—at a time when Hootie's star is fading into oblivion. Its debut record, Magazine, has been released with virtually no fanfare, reviews, or promotional muscle. The band's name sounds like an album title, while the title of its album sounds like (and, in fact, is) the name of a band. But if Jump, Little Children doesn't catch on, it'll be a shame: Magazine is a fine debut, with far more gems than misfires. Singer Jay Clifford's smooth, engaging tenor allows the album's best material to transcend Better Than Ezra-style blandness, while subtly applied cellos and accordions add critical instrumental depth. Consequently, for every Third Eye Blind-esque "na-na-na" chorus ("Not Today"), shrill goof ("Body Parts"), or poetry reading ("Habit"), there's at least one magnificently hooky, guilty-pleasure pop-rock single ("Violent Dreams," "Come Out Clean") or sweetly sung ballad ("Cathedrals," the gorgeous album-closer "Close Your Eyes"). A cutout-bin classic in waiting, Magazine deserves to be heard while the group can still draw royalties from it.
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