You know? “No, you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know!” As Daryl Palumbo belts these lines in “You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon” one thing remains perfectly clear. You have no idea what Daryl is so angry about, but as a band these guys are at their prime! It’s brilliant; it’s brutal; it’s beautiful; ladies and gentlemen, it’s Glassjaw.
Much like studying a serial killer, before you can fathom enjoying this sporadic, hybrid that is the JAW, we must delve into the groups history. The Long Island based band remains one of the most melodic, influential, misunderstood, and underestimated groups in the past ten years. Formed in 1993, when vocalist Daryl Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck met at a camp, these guys were destined to be different. In their earliest efforts (these songs can be found in a collection coined “The Impossible Shot”) you can hear unique ideas, and tremendous energy. It is evident that the band had something special that even they didn’t fully understand. In 1997 the band recorded and released the EP Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This album was re-released in 2001. The album is pure energy from start to finish. The best thing about the EP is that Glassjaw wasn’t trying to change the world, or make a brilliant album. They wanted a CD that represented hardcore at its finest. The tracks represent just that.
In 2000, GJ released the cult classic “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence” through Roadrunner. The band hoped to put an end to the Nu-Metal craze that was Limp Bizkit, KoRn, etc. Not only were their attempts widely successful, they metaphorically curb stomped rap/rock. At this time I will give readers the opportunity to reflect, bow, and praise these Long Islanders……
Little did they know this album would be praised and their pioneering style would be copied (poorly) for years to come. You know that neighbor who always copies the other neighbor’s terrific jokes? They take a great joke, re-tell it incorrectly to the wrong audience, without all the subtleties that made the joke funny. Then they tell it again. No one laughs because the teller doesn’t fully comprehend their own tongue, and the riddle is now over used. This is exactly what happened to the style represented in “EYEWTKAS.” Artists who praised GJ’s work tried to recreate something pure in a formulaic way. They created “organized chaos” if you will. This just doesn’t work; Hence, the birth of Screamo.
Let me make it clear that Glassjaw is not to blame, and this doesn’t make the album any less enjoyable. Any artist who does anything unique will be poorly copied. It is inevitable. Just realize when you listen to the album that Glassjaw is not trying to be The Used, or Norma Jean. Glassjaw is being Glassjaw. I would say this is the most emotionally riveting album I have ever heard. From the first second of “Pretty Lush” to the line “now the record’s over” with tasteful delay, your ears and mind will be compelled in a way you never imagined. EYEWTKAS is an album that dares explore the dark avenues most people, and artists stay clear of. The record is bold, raw, and brutally honest. Unfortunately the corporation backing the band were linear, profit crazed zombies. Beck and Palumbo have frowned upon their treatment at Roadrunner openly in interviews.
With line up changes (the band had an immense number through the years) a substantial following, and a new label, GJ released “Worship and Tribute” in 2002. Many artists can appear unique once, after that they are revealed as a one trick pony of sorts; Not Glassjaw. The band and Ross Robinson pick up right where “EYEWTKAS” left off. As a band they are much more mature. The album embellishes upon GJ’s chaos while also tuning into Daryl’s wonderful hooks, and more melodic moments. The lyrics are more insightful, and Glassjaw seems to acknowledge their strange style in this record. Worship is an untouchable follow up.
After difficulty with tour, Daryl dealing with Crohn’s disease, and the start of Head Automatica, the band went on a hiatus. Fans waited impatiently. We were given a B-side to Worship, a handful of shows, and a page full of questions. Every year, for the past four years fans have expected the release. The wonderful thing about GJ is that fans are not upset. The true followers never turned their back on these guys. With high hopes they waited. Well it’s refreshing to say that Glassjaw is back in full force. The band has been touring, and releasing new music along with videos. Although they now record and tour as a four piece, they are tighter and more creative than ever.
The mystery of Glassjaw is what makes them so great. In today’s music industry we are fed so much information at once. It is difficult for anything to stick. Glassjaw is sticking to what they know. It’s odd, unpredictable, and fans love it. If you ask me, they have formed a brilliant marketing scheme. However, I don’t think that was their intent. If you visited their website a few months ago, you would arrive to a page of their flag logo. A drum loop quietly plays in the background….wait two minutes…..”BURNING!” You would be blown away by their first single release from their anticipated new album. A few months later we were given “All Good Junkies Go To Heaven,” “Jesus Glue” and recently, “Natural Born Farmer.” These songs were all initially released on vinyl. The band also put up a music video of “You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon.” The video was a live take of the track in what looks like their practice space. They also put up a live cut of a song called “Stars.”
Glassjaw fans have every reason in the world to be optimistic. The band is touring, releasing music, and sticking to what they believe. These are the bands finest releases yet. If you are about to ask when the album is coming out, or why the songs are released on vinyl than I haven’t done my job. You certainly don’t get it, and the band couldn’t care less. I re-introduce Glassjaw: the band your friends never understood.