In the 1990s, Blake Schwarzenbach established his rep as one of the most mature and incisive lyricists in Punk Rock and early Emo. Over seven years, the guitarist/singer’s Bay Area-based breakthrough band, Jawbreaker, explored subjects both dismal (death, loneliness, destroyed relationships) and lighthearted (the politics of Punk, moments of falling in love) over evocative, carefully plotted hooks.
Once Jawbreaker imploded (soon after the release of 1995 major label debut Dear You), Schwarzenbach formed the Indie Rock-leaning Jets to Brazil and began constructing looser narratives that utilized more complex and abstract imagery, but that group was finished by 2003. For a good number of years thereafter, Schwarzenbach completely dropped out of the scene, trading his musical pursuits for an English professorship at New York's Hunter College.
Then, in 2008, he unexpectedly resurfaced with Thorns of Life, a project that also included drummer/long-running ’zine creator Aaron Cometbus. The band booked innocuous, tiny shows, but they couldn't evade Thorns’ growing hype. Then that outfit fell apart, too, and broke up before even recording an album.
Schwarzenbach immediately moved onto a fourth group, this one called forgetters (remember — the “f” sits in lowercase). Rooted in Brooklyn, it finds the guitarist working alongside original Against Me! drummer Kevin Mahon and ex-Bitchin' bassist Caroline Paquita. The trio fuses the taciturn, raw vitality of Jawbreaker with the complicated poetry of Schwarzenbach’s Jets days, throwing in a sociopolitical touch. While a handful of Thorns' songs are being reused by the current band, forgetters have a thin discography thus far (a self-titled, self-released 7-inch came out in late September) and have only begun doing substantial amounts of touring.
Sure, expectations for forgetters are hefty — they have to be after Schwarzenbach's ’90s past — but even if the guy doesn't oversee another 24 Hour Revenge Therapy or Orange Rhyming Dictionary, knowing that he’s active again is comforting in itself.
(Get show and club details here.)