Jawbox was formed in Washington, DC in 1989 by guitarist/vocalist J. Robbins, bassist Kim Coletta, and drummer Adam Wade. The trio released their debut 7â€ in 1990 as a split between Dischord Records and their own label, DeSoto. Over the next three years, Jawbox put out two albums and three 7â€ singles. Grippe, released in â€™91, was the bandâ€™s first full-length. Second guitarist/singer Bill Barbot joined the line-up in time to record â€™92â€™s Novelty. Both albums were released on Dischord. Zach Barocas took over drumming duties that same year, performing on For Your Own Special Sweetheart, which was released in 1994 on Atlantic Records.
Recorded in Hoboken, NJ with John Agnello in winter of 1995, Jawbox was the bandâ€™s fourth and final album.
If Sweetheart presented the bandâ€™s music in a straightforward and unembellished state, Jawboxfound the group more open to experimentation. Arrangement-wise, it contains some of the bandâ€™s densest compositions (â€œChinese Fork Tieâ€), but also some of its most concise and tuneful songwriting (â€œExcandescentâ€). While the basic tracks were recorded more or less live, the songs were later augmented with sounds â€“ toy drum kit, Hammond B3 organ, and saxophone â€“ that were outside of the bandâ€™s established palate.
â€œI feel like thatâ€™s our kind of kitchen sink record,â€ says Robbins. â€œSweetheart was bare-bones â€“ just the best, most perfectly played representation of the band playing those songs. By the end of that recording process, we had a groove on who was going to do what and we thought, â€˜now we can consciously incorporate our weird influences from other places.'"
By the time S/T was released via the Atlantic subsidiary TAG in 1996, it had become clear thatJawbox was beginning to wind down. â€œThat record coincided with us starting to really burn out,â€ says Robbins. â€œWe didnâ€™t even know what label we were on at that point. We had toured the USA to the extent that we were ever going to feel like we were doing something new.â€
The band toured the album throughout the remainder of the year, but ultimately decided to call it quits, performing its final show in Rochester, NY on February 14th 1997.
â€œI think that we thought of it as our best record,â€ says Robbins. â€œEvery other Jawbox record was, like, â€˜We have 12 songs, lets go record.â€™ This was the one record where we had the sense that â€˜Are we ready?â€™ â€“ we had a vision about how things should be, followed it through, and pushed the envelope aesthetically for ourselves.â€
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