I’m still feeling giddy from the forgetters show at Vera last night. For all the love that gets thrown around for Jawbreaker, I never really thought their live show was that remarkable. You had to know the material and love the records, and then it was just a big communal heartache fest when they’d take the stage at the Capitol Theater Backstage or the Old Fire House. Similarly, I remember being initially disappointed by Jets To Brazil’s Northwest debut at the RKCNDY, though I went on to love all their records. So to be impressed by Blake Schwarzenbach’s latest band right at the get-go makes me think great things are in store for forgetters. This song in particular left me a little misty-eyed…
Older scene veterans forming new bands—there’s a lot of it going on lately. And the beauty of it is that there seems to be a renewed sense of purpose and ideology with a lot of these new projects. I doubt forgetters will make the kind of business moves Jawbreaker made towards the end of their career. If the new markets created by the internet made the previous millennium’s basement heroes think there was a viable career in making music, the crumbling music industry and the bitter realities of making one’s art a career seems to have recalibrated the expectations and incentives for the modern rock band. Bands are moving back to an age of self-releasing records, passing on extensive touring in favor of weekend jaunts, and opting for shows at alternative spaces instead of the big rock clubs. Let’s just forget the last decade ever happened.
Trevor de Brauw, guitarist for Chicago instrumentalists Pelican would most likely agree. Pelican fans have probably already noted the band’s decrease in activity, a deliberate move after ten years of constant touring. Bee Control—Trevor’s short-lived side project with Dave Laney (Milemarker, Challenger, Auxes) and Theo Katsaounis (Joan of Arc)—was an antidote of sorts, a return to the raging no-hope hardcore of their youth. “Near the end of [Pelican’s] stint as a full time band, we'd be on these one week stints with bands whose enthusiasm for being on the road was overwhelming because it was something they were approaching as a hobby. I was really jealous, because I was valuing the experience of playing on a different, more jaded level,” says de Brauw. Bee Control is currently on hiatus due to Laney living abroad. One can only assume that the 300 copies of their 7” will disappear quickly.
Jawbreaker’s major label stint was a death knell for the band, and their mandible brethren Jawbox didn’t fare much better. Not surprisingly, the new projects that arose from the ashes of Jawbox opted to work with their own label, DeSoto Records. Guitarist/vocalist J. Robbins’ latest endeavor is even more DIY in nature; Office of Future Plans’ debut 7” was funded entirely by Kickstarter donations. The band is classic Robbins—big, angular guitar work blanketed by strong vocal melodies and hammered into place with an authoritative rhythm section. Check it out here.
On a local level, Nate Turpen of Seattle indie-training-ground post-rock band Sharks Keep Moving and Joe Anderson of grossly underappreciated Bellingham art-core band Jough Dawn Baker recently formed Man Years. There’s a little bit of the wiry guitar jangle and bouts of meaty riffage that can be traced back to their earlier projects, but Man Years put a heavy emphasis on breathy, layered falsetto vocals, a sly and alluring counterpoint to their brainy instrumentation. They have a full length in the works and should be playing out soon. Keep an eye out for them, or take a Dramamine and check ‘em out on Myspace.
I’m probably still riding a forgetters high, but the future is looking good.