It’s a weird thing when one of your favorite artists has a band and an album just sitting out there that you had no idea existed. Such is the fate of this one and only forgetters LP. Lead by Blake Schwarzenbach, he of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil indie rock royalty. And you know this band is cool because they don’t even bother to capitalize the ‘f’ in their name. Truly mid-2000s hipster shit right there. But, seriously, the Internet was around in 2012 when this album came out, and I literally had never heard it, or of it, until a decade later. Which is pretty cool news for a random Wednesday, I suppose.
Of course I’ve been fooled by this kind of thing before. Even when I knew the band and album existed. I tuned into hear a new, but hopefully similarish, iteration of a band or artist I’d know in their past incarnation only to be met with guitar plinking or electronic nonsense. So it was with great trepidation — especially based on the sad-looking artwork on the album cover — that I spun up forgetters, imagining the worst of a freak folk Schwarzenbach solo album. And, boy howdy, was I both surprised and excited by what met me on the other side. Not an acoustic or banjo or viola in sight. Just more power indie rock trio madness that certainly didn’t sound completely out of the realm of Jawbreaker’s latter-day stuff. Nice.
The funny part is that forgetters was actually a gap band between Jets to Brazil and an ill-fated band called The Thorns of Life, which I also had no idea existed. And also never put out an album. A gap band in the fact that he pretty much disbanded forgetters immediately after this album came out, and eventually found his way back to Jawbreaker. But I feel like this album gave him that harder post-punk taste that made him yearn for the olden, rock ‘n’ roll days. Not that Jets to Brazil didn’t start like a logical continuation of Jawbreaker with their debut, Orange Rhyming Dictionary, but by the time they closed out that discog with Perfecting Loneliness, they had gotten pretty far from their punk roots. Not that there’s anything wrong with evolution, of course, but I’m just saying that something in forgetters managed to kind of mingle some of the more rock side of Jets to Brazil and marry it with some of the softer sides of Jawbreaker to create this middle-ground that brought some anthemic song structure with the rawer edge that mades this kind of music attractive to those of us who appreciate more of that DIY aesthetic. And probably sparked some nostalgia in Schwarzenbach’s head, eventually leading him back home.
In the meantime, we have this one album. I wouldn’t call it iconic, obviously. But there is certainly some excellence. And I don’t know if that’s just pure nostalgia. Granted, nostalgia for a band I only found out about a couple weeks ago… But the dour lyrics, and vaguely Euro sentiment and delivery of Schwarzenbach wrap me in this very familiar blanket. I mean, the dude has songs like “Die By Your Own Hand” and “O Deadly Death.” Kind of not what you’d expect from a dude who went to Crossroads High School in Santa Monica and got an English Lit BA from NYU. Or maybe it’s exactly what you’d expect. Because there’s what feels like a literary quote at the beginning of “O Deadly Death” that may or may not be from a Jack Kerouac novel — or somehow related. Right before they launch into a song that feel like their spin on an Alkaline Trio tune.
Whatever the case, I very much enjoyed this album. Even the less aggressive points that close out the backend of the tracklist. It’s a nice, little footnote to a career that was never terribly successful in the commercial sense. But certainly meant a bunch to a group of Gen-X dudes of a certain ilk. So this little, uh, dalliance is so fun to find and bank as something I can go back to. It makes me want to dig around the Internet for other possible records in artists’ oeuvres that I may have missed when I was busy like raising kids and bitching about how everything was so much better in the 90s.