Quick Review (LP): For Your Own Special Sweetheart by Jawbox

jawbox for your own special sweetheart Jawbox
For Your Own Special Sweetheart
Atlantic; 1994

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “FF=66”, “Savory”, “Breathe”, “Cooling Card”, “Whitney Walks”

The only problem with Novelty was the production. All I can say is that it sounded a bit off, sort of glossed and imbalanced. The drums, for example, popped with too much pizzazz. The guitars came off a little too metal. All that has been remedied on For Your Own Special Sweetheart, apparently by the efforts of Fugazi-standby producer Ted Nicely. With his assistance, the band made the defining Jawbox experience, an album that captures the band in all of their gorgeous, hyper-melodic dissonance. Everything – and I mean everything – about this record brims with sonic glory. The choruses are fist-pumpingly mighty, the drums and bass are pummeling and full, and the guitars are explosive and razor-sharp. The only drawback, and it is minor, is that the best material seems to be packed into the record’s first half. Still, it could just be that tracks 1-6 are so strong that nothing could compare, and to be honest, “Chicago Piano”, “U-Trau”, and “Whitney Walks” are all pretty amazing anyway. There’s no doubt in my mind that Sweetheart is one of the great post-punk records, and certainly Jawbox’s masterpiece. It’s a record that deserves to be listened to on full blast, so pop it in, crank it up, and savor every second.

Wikipedia article
Pitchfork review
AMG review

Quick Review (LP): Novelty by Jawbox

jawbox novelty Jawbox
Novelty
Dischord; 1992

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “Cutoff”, “Static”, “Tracking”, “Channel 3”

Bill Barbot joins the crew, and greatness is unleashed. The progression from Grippe to Novelty is without a doubt one of the most remarkable in the history of rock and roll. Between albums, the band learned how to harness massive feedback walls, wrote a killer set of songs, and slowed things down just enough to nail you in the gut. “Cutoff” is so good that they re-wrote it on their 4th LP, “Channel 3” leans heavily on the muscular pop that was starting to rock the mainstream, and “Static” is quite simply an amazing tune. The dueling vocal attack of Robbins and Barbot is something to behold as well, creating a sort of hypnotic effect that’ll suck you in. But it’s the emotional arc of the songwriting that makes Novelty such a giant leap. The highs are galactic, the lows are subterranean. Novelty is one massive moment of greatness, one of the greatest post-hardcore records of all time, and deserves to be cherished by you.

AMG review
Wikipedia article
Punk Mecca review