Thursday, December 10, 2009

Boilermaker - In Wallace's Shadow

Label: Goldenrod
Year: 1996

In the wake of Jawbox-gate 2009, I feel obligated to post two particular records. Two records that to my ears, are head and shoulders above what Jawbox was doing at the same time. The two greatest emo records of the 1990's; Boilermaker's "In Wallace's Shadow" and Castor's "Castor".
To the Jawbox contingent out there, if you haven't heard these, give them a listen and let me know what you think. 
And in the spirit of full disclosure, after everyone seemed to unanimously come to defend the honor of Jawbox, I went back into the archives and dug up all the Jawbox I could find. I gave it a listen (without prejudice volume 1 [token George Michael reference]), and have come to the conclusion that while I might have been a little rough on the band initially today, they aren't as boring as I remembered them being, but also not as inspiring as some would lead you to believe. It has honestly been about 12 years or more since I have actually listened to one of their albums all the way through, and I only rarely would hear them by way of a compilation track here and there, so it's been awhile since I've paid much attention. Being honest, I will admit they have a few hot rockers, but the part I did remember about their records (and seeing them live) was the long drawn out boring, sterile parts. And yes, I realize that Jawbox, Boilermaker, and Castor were not always musically related, or out to accomplish the same things, but in the grand scheme of independent music of the day, I think the similarities outweigh their differences.
I did my part, now you guys do yours and listen to this and the next post.
And by the way, Boilermaker, and this album in particular are what "emo" should sound like. Melodic, yet driving, sensitive, but not sappy, and most of all, rocking. This band had it all, the musicians were pushing and pulling, creating these big dynamics, and the vocals were soaring above the whole thing, carrying the songs to greater heights. Fuckin-a, this stuff still rules after all these years.


1009 said...

I think I see a connection here, and I definitely appreciate the level-headed way this "controversy" has been conducted. These guys have definitely studied their Jawbox; "Iris" cribs a guitar line from "Cutoff," off Jawbox's *Novelty*. But those vocals, I can never get over that with anything emo (even when I like the music, as I seem to be doing with these guys), that anemic male sound. Just drives me nuts. This is more personal preference than anything.

But I never heard Jawbox as having anything to do with anything emo. Maybe having the expectation that they do fit in the category has something to do with your dislike of them. Jawbox had quite "emotional" songs (so did Gustav Mahler for that), but Robbins et al were and are much more veiled about expressing exact content. I mean, I have read that "Won't Come Off" is supposed to be a positive song about sex. That's veiled. Not repressed, but certainly indirect.

Anyhow thanks for putting these up. I'm giving them a listen.

ipecac said...

i've given this a listen

and it's ok in my book

but the one thing that struck me about the whole thing was it didn't seem to have all that much depth-wise (that what she said...)

the album's production just put everything up front

the drums come off almost sounding drum machine-like sometimes (maybe it's the way the snare sounds)

am i making any sense?

White Goodman said...

Thanks for posting this. Boilermaker were the best of the best when it came to this style of music. All of their records still hold up so well. It broke my heart when Terrin passed away last year. Glad he has such an incredible musical legacy to carry his memory.

thuglifebaldwin said...

IMO: giants chair was as good or better than boilermaker but boilermaker was great too........"mobile home" is probably my favorite boilermaker song......

PETE said...

This is by no means a bad album, some really excellent tracks by an overlooked band. I'd put either of the first two No Knife albums above this though, if it's the San Diego version of 'emo' we're talking.
To cap things off it must be said that Giants Chair produced the finest 'emo' records of the 90's. I see where you're coming from regarding Jawbox in that they can sometimes sound slightly academic or serious. As a whole they produced some of the most consistent albums of the 90s. I don't think they should 'happen' again though.

Stathis said...


can you, please, re-post this album?

Thank you very much

Efstathiou Stathis

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