In terms of influence and impact, previous few stand above Blake Schwarzenbach’s career arc in my books. The intelligent angst of Jawbreaker – seriously, each record delivered gritty punk melodies that framed poetry about loneliness and growing up – and “bring you to tears” beauty of the Jets to Brazil catalog are essential listening, even twenty years later.
Jawbreaker went places that most emo/punk rockers didn’t have the balls or brains to go. They screamed of feelings, without seeming campy. They made it okay to feel sad. They reached out to the audience, and for some reason you couldn’t help but think things would get better. They played with an intensity that couldn’t be reproduced by the countless other three chord collectives they inspired.
I wish I found Jawbreaker in cooler ways; I heard a few jams on old samplers and fell in love with “Chesterfield King” only after hearing Face to Face pay tribute to it on a covers record (that oddly enough, I didn’t really like much but got me to start exploring new, amazing bands). My “day one” was almost three years after Jawbreaker had disbanded.
Rumors of reunions and the joy of re-issues. That’s what we’re left with, and honestly, that’s okay. I’m getting older, the crowd I want to be around is thinning as fast as my hair so the warmth of Bivouac re-pressed with more bottom and middle is much better than holding onto the dream of one day singing along to these anthems in a sweaty crowd.
I can’t review this record without bias. These songs are a part of me; ingrained into so many of my most powerful memories – both happy and painful. I can say that John Golden did some fantastic work in making this gruff, scratchy sludge sound better without losing any of the intensity and rough edge that complimented the fantastic lyrics so perfectly.
If you’ve never heard Jawbreaker, listening to “Chesterfield King” – one of my favorite love songs ever recorded – or the epic melancholy of “Bivouac” – probably the band’s best song – in this pristine sonic state, will be enough to get you hooked. If you are a life long fan, well, it’s just another essential item for your collection.
Pre-order Bivouac here and do it now. You won’t be sorry.