Monday, May 28, 2012
Jawbox - For Your Own Special Sweetheart
Released - 1994
Editor's note: Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available.
Story by T.J. Schilling, bassist/guitarst for Carved Up.
Hardcore was never something that jumped up and bit me when I was younger. I'm still kind of uneasy around it as a whole (the culture, the music, etc..). Too big and too aloof… and I liked weed and beer a lot, so all that aggression kinda didn't make sense to me. Why not just chill the fuck out and kill a couch or something? Besides, most of the bands friends had shown me could hardly even play their instruments. This was not appealing to me. I wouldn't call myself a purist, but if you're going to make music that's life affirming, you could at least connect on the accents in your own songs, for fuck's sake.
Anyways.. I was 21 and I needed some records to bridge the gap for me. This might have been the biggest one.
The first Jawbox record I owned was actually Novelty. A pretty decent record, albeit a little monotonous. Most of the songs were strong, but the production was super slick and it felt weird. Even the most killer song on that album, "Send Down", felt a little croon-y, but it roared real good. I was on the fence with this band, but I decided I'd take a chance on the next one.
I picked up For Your Own Special Sweetheart and I was floored. The entire rhythm section pounds harder on this album than any other recording I'd ever heard. Adam Wade was no slouch on Novelty, but Zach Barocas puts him completely to shame. The songs vary in tempo, style, and rhythm set, but all feel cohesive. I got through half this record and was pretty stoked.
The first time I heard "LS/MFT" it was over. Up until that point, I had never heard a band execute something like it. It's got almost a 2-step cowboy swing through the verse. The chorus drops in with big harmonies, sawtooth-twang guitars and high-hat flams that make you want to throw every single piece of furniture in the room. It's the first song on the album where you start to realize just what this rhythm section was capable of.
Moreover, for every track with an off-kilter rhythm, there's one that's straight ahead to match it, usually anchored by Kim Coletta's excellent bass playing. She's got this fresh-string 'clank' throughout the record that just totally rules. It's kind of like she sits in a class of bass players (Dave Curran of Unsane comes to mind) that just sort of 'got' how to make a J Bass always sound fucking awesome. Kudos to her. I still don't get it.
Growing up playing guitar, I always had this sort of code of ethics on how one should approach the instrument. Obviously I was young and completely full of shit. Everyone approaches things differently and that's what gives music it's individual quality. However, as far as rock music goes, I felt that if you were going to play it, you should be exerting some physicality with your instrument. Every song on this record is a testament to that. The line between punishing distortion and clean guitar tone comes straight from J Robbins and Bill Barbot's hands. It completely reaffirmed all of my ideas on what I considered to be real and honest guitar playing. To this day, I still try and attack the instrument in the same manner. Jawbox (among other bands… Fugazi, etc..) are a good foundation if you find yourself getting away from it.
I'm not sure that any of the lyrics on this album make sense; and I'm fine with that. It allows you to make your own imagery. The delivery is there on all other fronts and as far as any of the projects I've been involved with or any that I plan to begin, this record always serves as a huge reminder on how to do things right. Plug it in, get loud, play hard, get to the point.
Posted by donnymutt at 7:00 AM