Saturday, July 06, 2013

Jets To Brazil ‎– Four Cornered Night (2000)

Leaving his punk roots completely behind him, Blake Schwarzenbach, former singer/guitarist for Jawbreaker, plays it very sweet on Four Cornered Night, the second record from his slightly arty indie rock project Jets to Brazil. His songs have always been melodramatic, even Jawbreaker's most fiery, emo-punk classics like "Chesterfield Kings" or "I Want You." But with Four Cornered Night, he indulges in the sort of over-the-top sentimentality that is more reminiscent of a lengthy novel by Proust than anything you'd expect from a rock band. But these ballads do rock at a lazy pace, and while "All Things Good and Nice" is too sappy and self-centered, other numbers like "In the Summer When You Really Know" and "Pale New Dawn" are lovely, heartfelt beauties and among the best tunes Schwarzenbach has ever penned. With Four Cornered Night, it is obvious that Schwarzenbach is making exactly the sort of record he wants, and though his old punk fan base has long since fled, indie kids go bonkers over his more sensitive side, as they should.
Adam Bregman 

If I were on a jet to Brazil, I would probably be going to Rio de Janeiro-"European style sunbathing", nahsayin'?  If I were in a record store with $10 in my pocket, I would probably buy the new Jets to Brazil LP "Four Cornered Night".  This second offering from the Jets sounds markedly different from their initial effort "Orange Rhyming Dictionary", also on Jade Tree.  The majority of the tracks on Dictionary were songs lead singer Blake Schwarzenbach wrote following the demise of his legendary outfit Jawbreaker.  As such, "Four Cornered Night" is more of an amalgam of all members of the band.  The guitars aren't as grating, the tempos are slowed, and Schwarzenbach's angst is (at least in part) replaced by the cello and the piano.  While some may feel this is a case of too many chefs spoiling the broth; the result is a thoroughly engaging and unique recording.  Even if Jets to Brazil's "Four Cornered Night" is not as groundbreaking as their earlier effort, it is nonetheless a worthy sophomore follow up.

Based out of Brooklyn, NY, Jets to Brazil shows a softer side of former Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach. Leaving behind the hardcore punk base of Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil is a much sappier, yet accessible rock sound. Four Cornered Night is the band’s second release, their first being 1998’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary. The band broke up less than a year after the release of their third album, 2002’s Perfecting Loneliness. With a melodramatic rock style covering a wide range of topics, this album is the band’s most artistic and personal venture. But with greater risks come greater rewards.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Damn you, Blake Schwarzenbach, with your ridiculous name and your sweet, mellifluous voice. Not enough people are aware of this indie rock gem, based out of Brooklyn, NY. All it takes is a little dusting off, and Jets to Brazil will surely become a favorite for anyone who places this album next to Jets to Brazils' contemporaries, Death Cab For Cutie, The Arcade Fire, or maybe Jimmy Eat World. I'm sure we've all had certain albums, some superb and some downright horrible, trapped in our heads for extended periods of time. Four Cornered Night, Jets to Brazil's second album, has been playing on repeat throughout my head virtually unceasingly for the past three days. Blake really opens up here and lets his contradictory gloomy yet hopeful lines fill your head with images of hammocks, lazy rivers, and sunny summer afternoons with nothing to do. This is most likely due to the addition of Brian Maryansky to the band, which allowed Blake to concentrate solely on the piano. Don't get me wrong, Jets can still rock when deemed necessary, but it's really the slow, deliberate punch-lines perfectly executed by Blake's unique voice that stand out.

The biggest difference between and Jets to Brazil's debut is the lack of instrumentation. They have relegated the guitar to the background and replaced it with their prominent vocals. Content with simple guitar melodies, Jets to Brazil put all their chips into the pot, banking on the vocals and lyrics. For the most part, this seems like an advantageous decision.

At first, having a catchy song like "Orange Rhyming Dictionary" trapped in my subconscious wasn't dreadful. Before I downloaded the entire album, that particular song was a top favourite of mine in the entire Jets' repertoire. It's a sluggish, thoughtful song with some all-time great depressing lyrics, brought to you in front of an adequate guitar line. "Doooo the stars conspire, to kill us all with loneliness?" Blake asks the listener, patiently awaiting an answer.

Later, it becomes apparent that this is just the tip of Blake's iceberg of melancholy emotion. Another highlight of Four Cornered Night is "Empty Picture Frame". This song provides the listener with a bottomless impression of loneliness. Blake is reminiscing about a past relationship, knowing things will ultimately improve in the future, but still unable to overcome these dejected sentiments. However, Night does reach a low with the song "All Things Good and Nice", the last song on the album. For twelve songs, Blake managed to walk fairly well on a very thin line of sappy lyrics and over-sentimentality. The problem goes as such: that line is like a median strip of a four-lane highway, and when Blake crosses it, he jumps two lanes out and gets hit by a large oncoming vehicle traveling very fast. There was a point when I was singing this song to myself and it made me want to do the same. Yeah, it's that bad. Blake takes the time to mention every member of his family and his band and just exactly why he loves them. At first listen, I prayed that this was just sarcasm leaking from the singer's mouth, but that's not Jets' style.
Despite an extremely impressive start and a pitiful ending, Jets manage to slip in some quality songs to the middle of the album. "In the Summer's When You Really Know", "One Summer Last Fall", and "Pale New Dawn", all deserve recognition as delightful songs with Blake's sentimental lyrics. Nevertheless, the reason I'm able to mention them all in the same sentence is because the music behind Blake's voice becomes stale background music that all sounds similar.

In retrospect, there's few albums I would have rather had stuck in my head, right now. Despite a few mishaps in "All Things Good and Nice" and "Air Traffic Control", Jets to Brazil managed to do what most bands have a very difficult time trying to do. They notably altered their previous sound and also managed to put together an excellent album. Sure, old Jawbreaker fans are most likely going to detest this, but to me it sounds like a stepping stone onward to bigger and better endeavors for Jets to Brazil.

I work too much.
The other day, around 6:15 pm, the normal mad dinner rush hit my sandwhich shop with full force. Some new chick decided she had a 'headache' and called off, leaving only me and my worthless, nicotine-fiend of a manager to run the place for the rest of the night. I wasn't feeling too hot myself, but I needed the money, so I pushed on. To make things just a little worse, the head manager had taken the stereo home with her, so now I was left to jam to the mall's contemporary rock station all night.
Believe me, one can only take so many John Secada, Backstreet Boys, and Genesis songs. Needless to say, I wasn't the super friendly, nice young gentleman I always try to front to the customers. People could tell I was pissed, so most of them would just take their sandwiches, say 'Thank You', and go sit down. But then - oh but then...
"Hey man. You workin' hard or hardly workin'?" said a voice from the past.
"Workin' hard." I said sternly, because, well, I was.
"Why aren't jammin' to the Jets today?"
"Huh?" I said, looking up.
It was him. The kid who became a chopping block for me not even a month ago. His face had healed up quite a bit, but his ear still looked pretty bad. There was something different about him this time. He wasn't all punked out. Instead, he had a nicely trimmed haircut, some cheesy square glasses, and a Jawbreaker shirt on.
"Nice shirt man!" I said extactly.
"Thanks." he said, smiling. "You know, I did a lot of thinking while I was in the hospital, and I decided to give Jets to Brazil another chance. What do you know, I immidiately became hooked. Their words are just so awesome. Have you got their newest album "Four Cornered Night" yet? Aww man, if you don't have it, you gotta get it. It's a little more pop, a little more mellow than Jawbreaker or the first Jets album, but there's still some rockers on it. I love 'Milk and Apples'.
"Yeah man I got it." I said, trying to pay attention to him and the orders being placed simultaneously.
"I love the words on "Orange Rhyming Dictionary". They're sooo good. I wonder why they put it on the new one instead of the first album?"
"I don't know. That's cool that you like them. They're really good. Well, I gotta get cookin." I said, trying to be as polite as possible to this kid, seeing as how he apparently forgot about me beating him down with a spatchula.
By now, the orders were getting backed up.
"Do you have 'Dear You'? Dude, that's such a great album. One of the best ever. I had to order it online for 35$, but it was worth it. I went into the record store here but they only have 'Bivouac'. Is that one any good? I haven't heard it yet. What about 'Unfun'? I don't have that one either."
"Come on man, you need to move along. I'm trying to work here. Come up and talk after all these customers are gone." I said in a cooking frenzy.
"My friend's got 'Four Cornered Night' on vinyl. Talk about sweet. He found it for only 8$ in Columbus. I bet you wish you found a deal like that, don't ya. I know I do. I think I like the first Jets album a little more than the new one. It's a little too soft for me."
"Fathead, stop talking and start cooking. Don't get behind." my manager screamed.
The grill was sizzling. My manager was screaming. This kid was rambling. N'sync was playing. My nose was running. My head was pounding.
"You know who else I really like, thanks to you? The Get Up Kids. They are awesome!!"
I snapped again. I grabbed the spatchula, leaped the counter, and decked the kid, AGAIN! I pinned down his arms and proceeded to slap him silly.
"Don't ever say I made you like the Get Up Kids. They fucking suck. Don't ever say that you little piece of shit. Don't ever say...."
In a matter of seconds, the security guards had me cuffed and in the police car. The kid was crying, my manager was flipping out, and everyone in the food court was staring at me. I knew I fucked up this time.
I don't know if God really likes me or what, but just by chance, I stood in front of the same judge who let me off last time.
"You again!" he said.
"Yes sir. It's me."
"Aggrivated assault with a spatchula, AGAIN! Son, this is your second offense. Now I tried to be leaniant and understanding last time, but you better have a damn good reason this time, or you're going away for a while!"
"I'm so sorry, your honor, I was so stressed. So many things all at once, and then this kid said he liked the Get Up Kids because of me, and my manager....."
"Stop right there." the judge said with a shocked look on his face." What did you say? Someone likes the Get Up Kids?!?!? Son, you did the right thing. Balif, let this man go. We can't have vigilantes like this tied up in court cases. He's got to be out there, protecting kids from the dangers of the Koufax, the New Amsterdams, and heaven forbid, the Get Up Kids."
"Thank You sir, Thank You so much! It will never happen again."
"Oh, it better happen again. Fathead, I'm appointing you leader of a new office, The Office of Music Security. From now on, it is your duty. Now don't let me down."


  1. Glad you are back to posting regularly. Keep em coming!

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