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On Our Stereo: Jawbreaker - Dear You

After long overdue wait, our 'On Our Stereo' feature makes a welcomed return. For those who are unfamilliar with the concept, 'On Our Stereo' highlights a record; past or present, that we feel is recommended listening. This week, as ATP! Co-Editor Sean Reid takes a retrospective look at Jawbreaker's 'Dear You'.

Released in September 1995 in a time where alternative music was going through a transformation. "Grunge" had died along with Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and the likes of Green Day and The Offspring were taking their brand of punk to the mainstream. In the years prior to 1995, Jawbreaker; a three piece made up of Adam Pfahler, Blake Schwarzenbach and Chris Bauermeister, based out of San Francisco, has been established themselves as hard working DIY punk band.

After several independent releases; most notably '24 Hour Revenge Therapy' from 1994 and 1992's 'Bivouac'. Jawbreaker took a gamble by signing to a major label, Geffen Records, a move that disgruntled fans but a move the band thought it needed to do.

'Dear You' consisted of a mixture of the bands scratchty punk-esq guitars, Blake Schwarzenbach's raw vocals and deep, mature lyrics. Something which was somewhat completely different producer Rob Cavallo, who had worked on Green Day's 'Dookie'.

Tracks like 'Save Your Generation' and 'Chemistry' kept the bands independent sound, although there are hints of radio-friendly hooks, as did 'Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault'. However despite Cavallo's attempt to make Jawbreaker more accessible to the masses, they were never going to be one of those bands. This was mainly due to Schwarzenbach's battered vocals and rough guitar work, although their is a subtle grunge feel to the record and one that at times feels dated, even in 1995.

Elsewhere hints of pop-punk is seen 'Sluttering (May 4th)' and 'Chemistry'. However once again the bands anti-mainstream tone, thankfully avoids the band going down that route.

For the most part, Jawbreaker is known for Blake Schwarzenbach's words. Whilst some punk bands wrote 2 minute wonders about not giving a fuck. Blake wrote deep, introspective songs that told stories and were captivating. The high point of 'Dear You' is 'Accident Prone', a 6 minute spiraling, atmospheric number which sees a frustrated Schwarzenbach trying to bring closure to a past relationship and escape from his troubles.

Jawbreaker - Accident Prone

'Dear You' ended up being Jawbreaker's swan song and one that spearheaded the 90's emo movement, along with bands like Texas Is The Reason and Mineral. Later on the bands lyrical style influenced bands like The Get Up Kids, Brand New and Braid Whereas the likes of Fall Out Boy, All-American Rejects, Face To Face have covered Jawbreaker songs.

After the break-up, the trio went there separate ways. Most notably Blake Schwarzenbach formed Jets to Brazil, a more indie-esq rock band but with emo kinship. The bands 1998 debut, 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary' definitely worth giving a listen. After Jets To Brazil's 2003 break-up, Blake returned to school and even became a English professor at Hunter College in New York, before returning in 2008 with The Thorns of Life, a short-lived band which dissolved last year. Schwarzenbach currently finds himself in forgetters, a punk rock band based in Brooklyn that includes ex-Against Me! drummer Kevin Mahon and bassist Caroline Paquita. Debut material is expected to be released in the near future.

Chris Bauermeister returned to school and had several bands including Shorebirds. Whereas Drummer Adam Pfahler also played in bands such as J Church and Whysall Lane. In addition Pfahler runs Blackball Records, which owns the Jawbreaker back catalog (including 'Dear You'), which has seen numerous Jawbreaker-related releases.

Buy 'Dear You' by Jawbreaker here.

Further information on Jawbreaker can be found here.

Further Reading:
-Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore-1985-2007 by Eric Grubbs (2008)(Buy on Amazon)
-Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo by Andy Greenwald (2003) (Buy on Amazon)

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!