Stuff We Sell

All Things J.

12.17.11

At this point, most people are fairly in-the-know regarding the assorted musical endeavors of J. Robbins. He’s been a prominent and prolific song-writer in the DC area since joining Government Issue back in 1987, on through the Jawbox days, and currently with Office of Future Plans (not to mention the various bands and projects in between). Since the release of the Office of Future Plans record, I’ve been on a bit of a listening-frenzy with J.’s music, spanning the years, and I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my favorites. This is, by no means, a complete list of J.-related projects – that would take an eternity to write and there’s only so much time in a day; this is merely a list of some highlights:

Office of Future PlansSelf Titled
If you haven’t picked this record up yet, do yourself a favor and get to it. This record (besides being a straight-up rocker) is beautiful and thoughtful throughout. If you're looking for an individual song to check out before committing to the whole album, I recommend the song "Ambitious Wrists" for one of the better opening lines ever. Actually, it's not just the opening line … lyrically, this one's tops. All the champion trivialists will race to "see Angkor Wat by satellite," just you watch.

Rollkicker LaydownSelf-titled seven inch
This record is long-since out-of-print, and we have exactly one copy left in the office (which I imagine will get purchased pretty quickly after posting this).
I heard a rough mix of these songs back in 1991 when my brother's old band was recording with Geoff Turner at WGNS. Geoff was kind enough to play it for us in his basement studio, and I immediately couldn't wait for this record to come out. We were already fans of Jawbox, Gray Matter, and 3, so the union of J. and Geoff's vocals was of particular interest. If you read the brief liner notes on this seven inch, you'll notice that the band is made up of Tom Lyle, J., and Pete Moffett, all of whom were in the last incarnation of Government Issue. "No Voices in the Wire" is a great, great song. J.'s voice gets super gruff toward the end, and Pete really lays into the triplet fills.

ChannelsWaiting for the Next End of the World
I've got a soft spot for Channels because I was their driver/roadie on their singular tour to Chicago and back. The tour was great: the band played perfectly every night, the Beauty Pill van actually held together for the duration of the trip, we met a lot of nice and generous folks, and I ended up having all of Channels' songs run through my head for months afterward. Please, please listen to the song "The Licensee," and let Janet Morgan's vocal delivery remain in your head for the rest of the day. It's like incorporating all the beautiful phrasing and hookiness of Stereolab's Mary Hansen (circa Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops) into a powerful and upbeat rock song. I absolutely love this track. Most will probably hang on to "Chivaree" as the song that has it all (especially if you hone in on whatever it is Darren Zentek's playing during the chorus – impossible! and he makes it look so easy), but I'm still sticking with "The Licensee."

JawboxGrippe
Here's another record that I couldn't wait for – mainly because I had the Jawbox demo tape on constant rotation during high school and I was anxious to hear new studio versions. With this release, I've always had a certain affection for the song "Green-Line Delayed." I used to look at the DC Metro map in the late '80s and early '90s (while living in Suitland) with tremendous frustration; it seemed the Green line would NEVER be finished. Now I don't know if that's what this Jawbox song is about, but that's the meaning I took from it when I was in high school.
We have one vinyl copy of Grippe in stock right now, and it's missing the cover. Seriously, I've looked everywhere for an extra cover, and there are none here in the office. If you end up buying this copy (sans cover), it will be marked down on our website to 5 dollars.
If you end up buying the CD, do not overlook the song "Footbinder." The lyrics are heartbreaking and poignant.

Various ArtistsPlay (compilation)
When J. recorded the Soccer Team song for this record, "I'll Never Fear Ghosts Again," Melissa and I asked him to provide a guitar solo for it, which he did, and it's my favorite moment in the song (besides Melissa's vocal part during the chorus, of course). I think J. was channeling his inner-DEVO when he came up with that, which was perfect and appropriate.

JawboxTongues
Many people don't know, but we actually still have a lot of these in stock at Dischord. This marks the first appearance of Bill Barbot on the Jawbox records, making the band a four-piece and expanding the live vocal parts quite a bit.

JawboxMotorist
We still have these in stock, too (although not nearly as many). This record, engineered by Ian and Don, marks the first appearance of Zach Barocas on drums. It's mostly known for the B-Side, "Motorist," but the unsung hero is the A-side: "Jackpot Plus." The lyrics clearly paint a scene that references the ugliness of gambling. And the chorus trails off simply, "Someday I …"

Office of Future PlansSelf-released, Self-titled seven inch
We don't have any more copies of this record, but if you see it out on planet Earth somewhere, pick it up. The B-Side features a fantastic Stranglers cover, "Everybody Loves You When You're Dead." A great tribute to a great band.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan



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