Monday, May 09, 2005

Jawbox

Jawbox- Novelty

I fell in love with Jawbox right away. This one record store in Concord has a smattering of tapes (that’s right- we’re pre-CD) from Dischord and SST. I remembered that I had read something about the band somewhere, plucked the tape out of the battered rack, wore through it, ordered the disc directly from the label shortly thereafter.

Production? Muddy. It didn’t mean that much to me, at the time, the word- I was seventeen and hadn’t yet become friends with a bunch of fiendish gearheads. As time passed, though, and the band released more records, I realized that ‘Novelty’ sounded kinda hazy. Hard to tell the guitar lines apart.

So, the Dischord web page announced that ‘Novelty’ was going to be re-released, and I started looking in the Jawbox bin at Newbury Comics every day for a month, I shit you not, waiting for the new/old goods. And they finally arrived, and not only were both guitar lines pulled from their murky depths like forgotten pirate treasure, but the wonderful, bubbly bass lines became more pronounced, and the drums got a lot more punch, a lot more of the higher register! ‘Cutoff’ has a new clarity. ‘Static,’ the gem of melancholy no matter the hour of the day. ‘Spit-Bite,’ no longer wistfully yearning for a solvent that’s stronger- the new mix is so binding.

Jawbox- Savory +3

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Jawbox- My Scrapbook Of Fatal Accidents

There was this one Monday during my tenure at the record store when I went in only to be told that a mistake had been made on the schedule. I didn’t have to work that day. It was like being a kid and waking to hear the name of my school being broadcast over the emergency school cancellation station, you know? Snow days are few and far between as a grown-up. The added bonus was that the posthumous Jawbox record had just arrived at the store. I left with a huge smile plastered on my face. Jackpot plus!

In the height of the band’s power, Mike G. and I had pillaged the vinyl stacks at WUNH, digging and digging for the unreleased stuff. Most of the cuts on the CD were familiar to me by the time I put the disc on, but it didn’t even matter- it was all in one place. The stuff that I had never heard- the Peel Sessions, the live stuff- was awesome, totally the icing on the snow day cake.

But not as mind-blowing as the album notes.

Every show the band ever played, complete with venues and openers:

10/18/94 Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge MA w/ Brainiac

There was a period of time where I managed to notice and subsequently miss Jawbox shows, even though I really wanted to see ‘em play. Snowstorms, automotive breakdowns, insufficient funds.

Mike G. (who, along with myself, was co-editor of the then-nascent ‘Adhesive X’ fanzine) and I had been befriended by Jon, this guy who worked in the English department at UNH, played guitar in Sinkhole, and ran a record label. Jon said that he was going to be driving to Boston to see Built to Spill play Middle East Upstairs and asked if we wanted to ride down with him to see Jawbox.

!!!!

We were totally turned onto Brainiac by their amazing, spazzy opening set. Mike G. and I went over and introduced ourselves to Kim Coletta, Jawbox’s New Hampshire-born bass player.

10/21/95 Pearl Street, Northampton, MA w/ Jawbreaker

Me and Mike G. stayed drove down with Chris Mess, stayed with his aunt or cousin, don’t remember which. Serpico opened the show- it was right after they had changed their name from ‘Sleeper’ because of some major label band.

I recognized the import of the show- two of my favorite bands playing together- and let myself get swept up in it. I hadn’t ever seen Jawbreaker before, so the impressions of their set have stuck with me a little bit longer. Still, though, I remember Kim bouncing around the ample stage, Bill gritting his teeth in fuming restraint as he throttled the neck of his guitar.

10/24/95 Elvis Room, Portsmouth NH w/ Hellbender

The Elvis Room was full of polite, slightly academic punker types who clapped politely after every song. Chris and Abby were working on a documentary about the Elvis Room scene, filmed some of the band’s songs. Watching it all, years later, is hilarious- Jawbox is totally, obviously uncomfortable with the crowd’s well-mannered silence. Just made it easier, though, to hear that thing that Zach Barocas did every time he sat down behind the kit- shouting along with the drums. You can hear it on Scrapbook’s live ‘Savory’, way in the back- “SHA! SHA! SHIKKASHIKKASHASHASHA!” and you could really hear it in Portsmouth.

I gave Kim a Wah-Tut-Ca t-shirt, and we talked about the interview I had done with her for the third/best issue of Adhesive X. A few weeks later, a polaroid of her wearing the shirt arrived in my P.O. box. Swoon.

8/22/96 Irving Plaza, NY w/ Dismemberment Plan, Skeleton Key

I had planned to go see ‘em play Middle East Downstairs with the Vehicle Birth (“I’ve got a secret for you- I love you!”) but the camp season ran a little bit longer than originally anticipated. The girl I was dating at the time suggested that she drive down to New York City with me rather than me takingthe solo bus ride. Right on!

We met up with Jim Testa, who took us to a Chinese restaurant before Skeleton Key played their junk onstage. J. Robbins came over and said hello to Jim, which stoked me and the girl. So did the Dismemberment Plan, still in their jittery electro-freakout phase, pre-world weary maturity. You know.

Jawbox killed, playing a bunch of stuff off of their self-titled one (swan song, as it turned out) as well as a few gems from ‘Novelty.’ Awesome!

From there, the girl and I drove to New Brunswick, where Amy and Alex of the Prosolar Mechanics (Ex-Vegas, at the time) were nice enough to put us up/put up with us. Then it was a long drive to Dover that I remember absolutely none of.

12/1/96 Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA w/Engine 88

Best birthday ever:

The Sunday after Thanksgiving. My dad dropped me back in Dover, where I met up with Jessie, Mike U. and Joe. We drove down to Cambridge and met Terry G. there.

So we’re in there, standing around watching Engine 88 play, and there’s a tap on the shoulder. It’s Kim, there to wish me a happy birthday. We talk about the fanzine, school, and I give her this paper about interpretation vs. intent that I had written for my pop culture class.

(Terry G, God bless him, had rolled up and told Kim that I was there on my birthday. She said she wasn’t feeling well, came over anyway.)

So the band’s playing, right, and J. Robbins asks from the stage if I’m there.

I’m simultaneously mortified and ecstatic. And of course I’m there- front and center, right up against the stage. I raise my hand. He tells me that he liked my paper, and that we should talk about it after the set. He then dedicates ‘Iodine’ to me. The song that I had written the paper about.

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