Jawbox’s Own Special Sweetheart: Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”

JAWBOXlogoIn the wake of the overwhelming success of Nirvana’s Nevermind, major labels in the early/mid-’90s began signing any and every cool indie band they could in hopes of a similar payoff. One such outfit was Jawbox, a Washington, D.C., post-punk quartet that had issued two promising albums on the indier-than-thou Dischord label. The band—guitarist/vocalist J. Robbins, guitarist Bill Barbot, bassist Kim Coletta and drummer Zachary Barocas—signed to Atlantic and released the excellent For Your Own Special Sweetheart in 1994. (Though MAGNET named it the fifth-best album that year, Sweetheart was far from a commercial hit.) In 1996, Jawbox issued a slicker self-titled LP, which also failed to catch on beyond the indie-rock crowd, and the band broke up the following year. Dischord has just reissued For Your Own Special Sweetheart with three bonus tracks, and to celebrate, Jawbox is reuniting for a one-off performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon tonight. Barbot is also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.


Barbot: It’s difficult at this point to come up with anything new to say about Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Jeff Mangum is—was?—a wizard, and the promise of On Avery Island was borne out in magnificent and stunning ways on NMH’s follow-up, which sadly turned out to be their last. Why he quit remains a mystery, to me, anyway. I suppose some Internet research would reveal some clues. For all I know, he’s got a Facebook profile and he updates his status every day with, “still thinking … ” or “give me a minute.” There’s a part of me that wants more and wishes he hadn’t quit or moved on to field recordings of Bulgarian folk music or whatever it is he’s up to nowadays. But there’s a bigger part of me that thinks the ending was perfect, and anything else would just screw it up. If it’s possible to wear out the grooves in an iPod, Kim has done so with this one. Video after the jump.

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