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Jawbreaker
Dear You

vs.


Modest Mouse
The Moon & Antarctica

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Mercury

CDVS: Jawbreaker vs. Modest Mouse

The reissue album has largely been a major label endeavor, where the record companies bank on the ever-ominous "bonus material" to get fans to pony up the cash for an album they essentially already own. It seems the Big Five have been paying attention to the DVD market, and how studios always seem to unearth more supplemental material for second and even third editions. Conversely, a handful of these re-releases are genuinely inspired, updated packages or happen to improve on the sound quality of the original (see last year's re-release of Television's Marquee Moon). But it's not just for classic rock anymore--the indie scene is now cashing in. And two of its most revered acts have recently repackaged their biggest albums.

Jawbreaker might've forgotten it ever recorded Dear You in 1995, based on the sharp reaction to it. The trio--one of emo's progenitors--renounced years of DIY pontificating by signing with Geffen Records. This did not sit well with fans who, once the slicker-than-usual record was released, bought tickets to the gig just to heckle the band. Yet once the 50,000-seller was forgotten and out of print, new fans discovered the band, and soon after, Dear You was fetching up to $70 per copy on eBay. It probably says something about modern emo/indie punk that the record doesn't sound dated in the least. Dear You shames a good portion of the diary rock being hawked today on account of its melodic smarts and proactive riffage. The lure on the reissue is five extra tracks just now seeing the light of day, including the super-catchy "Boxcar," which the band now believes could have been the single to truly break the band.

Modest Mouse's recent re-release for its 2000 Epic debut The Moon & Antarctica seems peculiar--after all, only four years have passed, and fans are likely more interested in its new album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News. But frontman Isaac Brock has made it no secret that the original package neither looks nor sounds right, so he remastered the songs, if only for him. Epic shocked him by not only paying for the project, but releasing it as well. Who knows the commercial motive--there's not much here to offer fans who have the 2000 version outside of alternative artwork, a sharper-sounding album and four bonus BBC performances (upping the tracklisting to 19 selections). That said, I can think of a handful of my own favorite bands, and should they remaster their older albums similarly, I'd probably cough up the scratch for them, too. Brock has made one of his best albums better, end of story. Still, the Jawbreaker reissue is the album worth emphasizing, if only because it's finally available again.--Mike Prevatt


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