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Livewire: J. Robbins and Gordon Withers @ Story/Stereo (2010.02.19)

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Photo credit: Greg Szeto

This performance is absolutely transcendant. I am still in a state of disbelief. What we have here is J. Robbins on guitar and vocals with his friend Gordon Withers on cello, playing acoustic arrangements of amazing songs from current and previous bands that have been blessed by the presence of Robbins (Burning Airlines, Jawbox, Channels, and current project Office of Future Plans). Just press the play button, I won’t bore you with how mesmerized I am by this music.

I will note, though, that my spartan portable stereo miking setup is normally something of a compromise for recording larger bands, where a multitrack recording would be superior, but is nearly ideal for an intimate close-up acoustic performance like this. Deeply felt thanks to everyone who combined forces to bring this into being. If you are not already listening and your eyes are still open reading this drivel, you are wasting valuable time and energy.

This performance came about thanks to the efforts of Story/Stereo music co-curators Chad Clark and Matt Byars (whose label West Main Development will be releasing the full set properly later this year).

J. Robbins and Gordon Withers
Live @ Story/Stereo in the Writer’s Center
February 19, 2010
Bethesda MD, USA

J. Robbins – guitar, vocal
Gordon Withers – cello

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Outside the Aviary (Burning Airlines acoustic) (2:03)
2. The Deluxe War Baby (Burning Airlines acoustic) (3:56)
3. Desert Sea (Jawbox acoustic) (3:21)
4. Spoiler (Jawbox acoustic) (2:50)
5. 68 (Jawbox acoustic) (3:21)
6. Green Glass (Jawbox acoustic) (4:46)
7. The Escape Engine (Burning Airlines acoustic) (2:54)
8. Your Several Selves (Office of Future Plans acoustic) (2:44)
9. Scissoring (Burning Airlines acoustic) (4:02)
10. Static (Jawbox acoustic) (5:18)
11. Savory (Jawbox acoustic) (5:05)
12. Lucky Lamb (Channels acoustic) (3:22)

Total time: 43:43


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, EQ, compression, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Video: Jawbox – “Savory,” “FF=66,” “68″ on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Congrats to friend of Aural States, stand-up guy, and all-around great musician (and highly underrated lyricist) J Robbins. His noted 90s project Jawbox (infamous for being one of the only artists to leave legendary Dischord Records). They delivered a taut performance of “Savory” last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the reissue and remastering of their Atlantic debut For Your Own Special Sweetheart.

If you missed it, YouTube has a version (see below), and Hulu will have a true HD 480p version later today.

And according to my chat with J, we also get two more online-exclusive performances after the jump (“FF=66″ and “68,” both also from FYOSS).

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Interview: Office of Future Plans & the Jawbox Reunion (w/ J Robbins)


Photo credit: Greg Szeto

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MP3: Report Suspicious Activity – The Night of 1000 Lies from Report Suspicious Activity (2005)

Office of Future Plans plays Oct 27th at the Sidebar with The Bomb, and a Halloween show on Oct 30th at Rock and Roll Hotel with Caverns and Imperial China.

On an anonymous street, nestled tightly amidst random warehouse facades in the neighborhood known as Better Waverly (funnily enough, south of Waverly proper), sits the Magpie Cage. From the outside, it appears to be no more than a steel-gated, two-car-width garage. But when you walk through the doors, it’s like entering a different world. A veritable oasis for anyone music-oriented, lined with warm wood tones, and contrasts of deep red while absolutely bursting with vintage and high-tech recording gear that strikes any artist like Pavlov’s Bell. Unlike many studios, this one is remarkably free of clutter, and blessed streamlined interior design (perhaps a bit of insight into the mind of its proprietor).

This is the studio of one J Robbins, one of the bonafide icons of local music, earning his stripes as final bassist in DC hardcore band Government Issue, vocalist and guitarist in post-hardcore follow-up Jawbox, and more recently with duties in Report Suspicious Activity, Channels, and Burning Airlines. He also happens to be one of the most earnest, hard-working, and genuine people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.

I got the chance to gab with J in the studio before a day of mixing locals …soihadto…, who counts the infamous Duff from Ace of Cakes among its members. Our conversation veered all over: from the forging fires of his new project Office of Future Plans, to the driving forces behind the bizarre Jawbox reunion set on Jimmy Fallon, and tons more in Robbins’ very busy life.

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