By Alex Brenner
Amidst the slew of reunion tours from 90′s acts, such as the Jesus Lizard, Pixies and Pavement, it only seems fitting to reissue one of the most brilliant records to come out of that time when alternative was alternative. The story of Jawbox is one we have all heard before: small indie band signs to major label and eventually gets dropped due to “lack of singles”. But For Your Own Special Sweetheart is one of those landmark albums. The angular guitars, odd time drums and pummeling bass would become a blue print for all post rock yet to come.
What is surprising about this reissue is that it’s being re-introduced by the band’s original label, Dischord Records, owned by punk legend Ian MacKaye. The original album was the band’s major label debut, put out by Atlantic. Not only is the album being reissued, it’s been remastered and even the art work has been redone. Indie engineer extraordinaire Bob Weston has done a fantastic job bringing in the low end to the drums and making all the intricate parts come together as one masterpiece. Several B-sides have been added as well. I really like how they didn’t add 10 alternate takes of the same song over and over.
The opening single “Savory” sounds so fresh – as if it has not aged a bit. It’s hard to believe this record came out in 1994. Jawbox always had a knack for killer hooks and this strange interplay of tension and release. Bursts of feedback, simple vocal melodies, climbing bass lines and ever changing rhythms will give you a black eye. They seamlessly go from explosive songs like “Motorist” to the melodic “Cooling Card” without losing any momentum.
The real treat to this reissue are the B-sides though. In fact, when I got the record I immediately listened to them first. Jawbox may be the rubik’s cube of indie rock; the rhythms seem impossible and complex and the winding guitars never really seem to resolve anywhere, but what a lovely sound they make. Listen to “68″, this is probably the best of the B-sides. How a band can rock in 7/4 time and not sound like Tower of Power is amazing to me. It’s so complex but yet so primal at the same time. These bonus tracks are a must have for any Jawbox fan and well worth the price of admission.
For Your Own Special Sweetheart is an amazing piece of work and should be considered required listening for any indie rock fan. It’s amazing how new this record sounds considering the time it was made. It’s almost revolutionary considering what music was out at the time, i.e., Oasis, Weezer and a slew of rap and metal acts. If you are just getting into punk rock or you have been a long time fan of the scene but never really discovered Jawbox, this is the record for you. You will not be disappointed.
Oh yeah, and they reunited for a one-off performance on Jimmy Fallon’s show Dec 8th. Check out the video from NBC. [Sorry for the gratuitous commercial at the beginning - we don't get paid for that. Rube]