The band was charged by twin frenetic guitars that go from here to there, with a clear relative in the works of Guy Piccioto and Eddie Janney with Rites Of Spring, the bass propelled everything from underneat, with a sense of it's own that at the same time completed what the guitars were commanding, with simple and strong drumming, supporting the three previously mentioned elements so they wouldn't shatter and end up in three different bands, and a static voice that narrated everything that was happening with the music. That how Jawbox was, finding themselves almost on the exact point in between Helmet and Fugazi, withg an added melodic sense that neither band would find until very late into their original careers. Novelty, their second album, showcased a confident band in all corners, without worries that at that time it was probable getting signed by a major label just for the fact of being a Dischord band, even though that's what happened in the end.
It's impossible to talk about the band without especially mentioning J Robbins who, by his own merit, deserves a star on the Georgetown Walk Of Fame or a picture on the walls of Yesterday & Today (if that existed, of course), before the formation of Jawbox, J had once filled the role of bass player for the incredible and incredibly important HarDCore band Government Issue; after Jawbox, J formed Burning Airlines, a less heavy yet very ultramelodic and rocking band, not to mention his work as a respected producer. Jawbox are sometimes referred to as an emo band (if your definition of emo is Fall Out Boy and Panic At The Disco then you probably won't understand the following, it has nothing to do with fashion and crap like that) and i can see why, the music has an inherited sense of nostalgia in itself and, also, the production and sounds used today sound kinda "early 90's" which, if you lived those days, invariably will bring memories back; but those are only touches, little frictions of time lost, worn laughter and misplaced cigarrette lighters, the songs are stellar, wrapping all that was doing rock outside the mainstream, unleashed and free but with a secret code book and a model to follow, and what it is to make a song that answers in an immediate way to poetic thinking, those thoughts that you often don't understand and sometimes you wished they quieted down. Jawbox is hard rock that likes to the headbang from the inside out instead of from the outside out like normal, it's atmosphere but so are rhythms, it's texture but so are riffs, it's you but also that guy over there.
Photo: Christian Lantry
After this album, Jawbox signed to Atlantic, recorded two albums, opened for Stone Temple Pilots on tour, Beavis & Butthead made fun of their video, never got to meet their target sales, got dropped, broke up, lost the rights to their major label albums and recently got them back. J Robbins now plays in a band called Channels that have an album on Dischord, an EP on DeSoto and lack arterial hypertension. For now, i enjoy the spaces between the notes which seem to be filled with thorns and ex-girlfriend's sisters you're forced to sit next to, it's all static after all.