By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
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While on the subject of other people's records, it's worth mentioning that bands and records, his own and others, seem to be a prominent subject on the album. One song, "One Summer Last Fall," seems to explicitly address the thousands of hearts that fell into Schwarzenbach's hands when they were falling under the spell of Jawbreaker's frayed sentimentality. One line attempts to set the record straight, stating, "Kid, you were wrong/ It wasn't me in that song/You write the lie you'd like to be/ When your life looks like a book you wouldn't read."
Not that Schwarzenbach is above finding salvation in the grooves of albums. "I lived through a record one summer last fall," he says at one point in the song. When pressed for a name he mentions both of Neutral Milk Hotel's albums, On Avery Island and In An Aeroplane Over the Sea, as well as Wilco's 1996 double-disc set, Being There. "I listened to all of those records to the point of wearing them out."
Another song, "Little Light," is a snapshot of life on the road, as a lovesick Schwarzenbach croons, "Now I'm so far from you/I'm naming stars for you/Ship to shore do you read?/S.O.S. J.T.B."
With Mandarin and the Early Lines
"I was writing a lot about the divide between my life in the band and my personal life. And there really isn't one anymore. So [in writing about my life] there are plenty of mentions of the band."
Thankfully the listener is spared any "Wanted Dead or Alive"-style histrionics, as most of Schwarzenbach's lyrics about band life can be applied to anyone trying to make sense of the world around them. Except perhaps the album's closer, "All Things Good and Nice," a song of praise, giving love to most of the significant characters in Schwarzenbach's life, from his mother to his bassist, as one line praises Chatelain, "I love my bassist/Represent the Western states/I think they sent me an angel from the old salt lake."
Shout-outs on a Jets to Brazil record?
"I had to give my band some love," Schwarzenbach says, laughing. "I wanted a song where I could introduce them. We've been playing that at the end of the set, and I give them shout-outs. I've always wanted to do that."
Fans can catch Schwarzenbach throwing out love from stages across America this fall, but they better not "just wait until they come through next time," if they want to see them. According to Schwarzenbach, there's no multiple blitzing of the country planned: "I just want it to be fun, and that's going to mean easing off a bit on how long we go out for at a time."
Almost as interesting as seeing how Jets will translate the recorded arrangements of Four Cornered Night to the stage will be the reaction this record and tour get from some of their fans. A recent show in Boston saw a lot of confused, younger faces as the band glided through piano-led ballads.
"We'll see," Schwarzenbach says hesitantly. "That was a little weird. It felt like we were backing music there."
Situated as the elder statesmen of sorts on the popular Jade Tree label (home to The Promise Ring and Joan of Arc, among others), and touring for a record that might remind a lot of their fans of music their parents listen to, Jets to Brazil have quite a campaign on their hands. Schwarzenbach doesn't mind being the underdog though. He welcomes it, even.
"It's healthier off to the side a little bit," he concludes. "I support all the groups on Jade Tree, and there are plenty of bands that I believe in, but there's something about where we are. Being a band from New York, it makes it more desperate. But I like that."