Jawbox casually dropped their first new music in 26 years recently which came as a surprise to me and just about everyone else. But a very welcome surprise as I have wondered if new music would be something that would result from their 2019 reunion and this is the first clue that it may indeed be coming. The announcement was low key and made on the band’s Instagram just a few days before the music was released on Bandcamp.
Though technically it could be said this is not in fact new music since it is two re-imagined songs from their 1991 debut album Grippe, “Grip” and “Consolation Prize,” along with a cover of Wire’s “Lowdown,” but either way you slice it, it’s still exciting. This release definitely gives me hope that the band is in the process of writing new music and perhaps this short EP is just a taste of things to come, a testing of the waters if you will to see how receptive their fanbase would be. These recordings also mark the first with new guitarist Brooks Harlan (Office of Future Plans, War On Women) who replaced Bill Barbot last year after Barbot moved to Vermont.
The band had this to say about the EP on their Bandcamp “As Jawbox rehearsed for shows with the addition of guitarist Brooks Harlan, we reworked a couple of songs from our first record Grippe. We felt those, as well as a Wire cover, were worth recording. Enjoy!” A short and sweet statement, that also cleverly keeps it close to the vest what their next moves may be studio wise.
Jawbox in 2019 (photo by Kate Hoos)
Jawbox is not the first band to revisit older work, and major artists like Beck and Conor Oberst (with Phoebe Bridgers) have recently announced their intentions to do the same with some of their material too. I think this is something I’d like to see more of because I’ve always found songs to not be static creations, but rather living entities that change and evolve over time as the artists who created them do (and recording techniques improve and budgets get bigger), so it has always seemed silly to me that just one recorded version would be the final word on any given song. There is nothing wrong with tweaks and revisions big or small so songs can live different lives at different points.
And while these re-imagined takes on Jawbox’s early work are definitely different—the drum fills more intricate on “Grip,” the guitars more nuanced and fuller throughout—they are overall not radical departures from the original recordings, but they don’t need to be. Rather they excellently represent the more mature version of the band that exists today: J. Robbins vocals more refined, the tempos more constrained, and notably Zach Barocas’ unique drumming leaving its mark on songs that were originally written and recorded before his tenure in the band. This EP is a must for any long time supporters (or even newer) and the comments on Bandcamp certainly prove that the fans are very ready to hear even more from the band.
Jawbox will play a three night residency at LPR in NYC on July 20, 21, 22nd, playing material from every era of their career.
The Revisionist EP was released exclusively on Bandcamp.