It's been deposed of late by The Hold Steady, but in past years the heights of my obsessions in the rock world have revolved around my dear departed Jawbreaker. I heard a lot of the first Jawbreaker record quasi-osmotically by living next door to (the only JS-NYC follower) David's then-girlfriend my freshman year of college and was re-introduced to Unfun (and the Whack and Blite EP) by whatever member of Stigmata sold the Shredder reissue to me by mistake instead of the first Jawbox record at Music Shack. How any ear-possessing humanoid could hear the opening Want and not fall in love with Jawbreaker or Chris Bauermeister's bass playing is beyond me.
My love for all the post-Jawbreaker projects has lead me down a lot of paths (Jets To Brazil, Horace Pinker, Whysall Lane) but the most satisfying of late has been Olympia, Washington's Shorebirds. They have split already, leaving a couple 7"s and this full-length It's Gonna Get Ugly. Christ, is this a good fucking record. This is Top 10 for 2008 for sure over at JS-NYC. The band featured Jawbreaker bassist Chris Bauermeister and was helmed by ex-Latterman guitarist Matt Canino, who also released it on his own Rumbletown label. He also appears to be a bike punk, which will never detract from a band in my eyes. I need to go back and check out the Latterman stuff, but between this record and the Iron Chic demo, I haven't had a chance to look back. If both Matt and Phil were bringing their A game like they seem to on these releases, I can see why kids were so bummed when Latterman split up.
So about It's Gonna Get Ugly. It's 12 songs in 27 minutes and all of it, if I may use technical jargon, fucking rips. Bauermeister is mixed way up front, barrelling through the tracks like a freight train. Canino's got a good Wollard meets Smalley voice that suits the gritty music nicely. Frankly, I found most of the Oly kids back in the day to be pretty fucking irritating, but if this is the kind of punk rock that's coming out of the deciduous rain forests these days, you can sign me up. I'd put them up there with Banner Pilot and the late Cardinal Sin.
From where I'm sitting, the best track (and, believe me, that is saying something) on It's Gonna Get Ugly is The Ballad of Marvin Heemeyer, a man who was probably on Andrew's radar from the get-go, but is new to me. Either way, props to the late Mr. Heemeyer and his family. That's a hell of a way to go out. It's a bummer that Heemeyer and Shorebirds are gone, both parties were formidable juggernauts. You can see footage of Heemeyer here. Check it out, then pick up the musical equivalent from the good folk of Rumbletowne here. Vinyl only, which is a silly is it is admirable. I can see going the Shellac route of releasing the vinyl before the cd, but this is a record that really needs to be heard, even if it is posthumously.
Canino has hit the ground running and already formed a new band called Reviver that I'm pretty eager to check out. Sadly, they appear to be so DIY as to not have a web presence, but if anyone tracks it down, dash off a missive, will ya?