Novelty album cover


Dischord Records

The Dischord community largely insulated itself from the alt-rock boom of the early ‘90s, but major labels did successfully woo two key acts from the roster: Jawbox and Shudder to Think, both of whom released superb post-Dischord LPs in 1994 via Atlantic and Epic, respectively. On Jawbox’s final Dischord effort, their sound was already a perfectly calibrated blend of muscle and melody, the lockstep wallop of Kim Coletta’s bass and Adam Wade’s drums offsetting J. Robbins’ gritty yet sing-songy vocal delivery, with then-new member Bill Barbot adding spiny guitar intrigue and tasteful backing vocals. Tracks like “Dreamless” and “Static” are about as beautiful as post-hardcore gets, while others, like “Send Down” and “Tracking,” harness a whiplash intensity that rivals metal-leaning contemporaries like Helmet. The group’s sound would evolve still further on their Atlantic albums — with powerhouse drummer Zach Barocas replacing Wade, who would exit and join up with Jawbox tourmates Shudder to Think — but Novelty remains a jewel of Dischord’s early-‘90s era.

Hank Shteamer

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