Jul 28, 2009

It's been a long time since I've heard new-to-me Jawbreaker songs. I really enjoy the sense of raw discovery that Jawbreaker provided me for the years they were actively releasing records. They're amazing – they came at punk rock, cracked its walnut and got to the soft flesh, but never forgot the texture of hardness. The duality was both poetic and durable. This is a collection of some early almost-demo songs (the demo, Rise, had Jon Liu singing every song but one), comp tracks, split 7"s, and out-of-print singles, all the way through their last release, the still-controversial Dear You. The songs are placed in chronological order, which is a great way to see how they refined and redirected their sound without abandoning what made them great: the power of three instruments ever inter-locking then breaking to breathe and Blake's tender knife-to-throat urban lullaby lyrics. If you've never heard of 'em, take Leatherface, move 'em to California, shake on Husker Du's bulletproof songwriting skill, open up an exposed soul, duct tape it together in a big ball, and stuff into a rattling tour van. The LP record dust jackets are great, too, with scans of Walter Matthau's attorney ordering a cease and desist from using one of the Odd Couples' pictures on the Busy 7" and a play-by-play of every song by all three members. Highlights: "Split" off their split 7" with Samiam that was released with No Idea Magazine, the spot-on cover of the Psychedelic Furs' "Into You Like a Train," "First Step," (a song slated for what I consider their magnum opus, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy) and the re-do of "Boxcar." Only one song makes me cringe – the U2 medley that segues into the Misfits "Skulls." All in all, though, this is fantastic. Highly recommended. I'm stoked this stuff is easier to find now and all in one place.

 –todd (Blackball)