Monday, April 16, 2018

Cover Wars: "Kiss The Bottle"

Cover Wars is an idea that I came up with years ago as a segment on the radio.  A DJ would play a song and then play a cover version of the same song and ask people to call in to vote for their favorite.  Back in 2011 I did a series of Cover Wars posts and recently I decided to bring the concept back, this time as a poll on Twitter.

"Kiss The Bottle" was written and recorded by Jawbreaker in 1992 for the 17 Reasons: The Mission District compilation.  From Wikipedia:
Before Bivouac's release, Jawbreaker recorded the song "Kiss the Bottle" for a Mission District-themed compilation of vinyl singles titled 17 Reasons: The Mission District.[8] It was the last song they recorded before Schwarzenbach's throat surgery, and his vocals on the recording are mottled and choked.[12] Greenwald cites the track as "one of [Jawbreaker's] seminal and best-loved songs", calling it "sludgy and churning, a working-class anthem with a steady, proletarian heart".[48] With lyrics profiling a pair of drunks outside a Mission District liquor store, "'Kiss the Bottle,' more than any other song, captures the sensitive boy machismo that drew (and continues to draw) male listeners to the altar of Schwarzenbach. With its fictional scrim, 'Kiss the Bottle' functions like a country song: the emotional impact is heightened by the specificity, not lessened. 'Kiss the Bottle' is Kerouac; it's Bukowski. It's the allure of giving into despair, to doing the wrong thing and at least succeeding at that."[12] The song has been cited as a favorite and an influence by Jim Ward of At the Drive-In and Sparta, and by Ron Richards, editor of the successful zine Muddle.[12][49]
Jawbreaker originally formed in New York, later moving to Los Angeles before settling in San Francisco.  I first discovered Jawbreaker in the early to mid-90s sometime prior to the release of their major label debut Dear You, picking up copies of the Busy 7" and their full-length debut Unfun.  At the time the band was thought of as a pop punk band (appearing on compilations such as Lookout Records' excellent Punk USA) but went on to influence a slew of bands from various sub-genres  after their breakup in 1996.  "Kiss The Bottle" was included in the 2002 b-sides and rarities compilation Etc. 

Memphis, TN's Lucero recorded their version of "Kiss The Bottle" in 1999 as the b-side for their first single, My Best Girl / Kiss The Bottle.  Frontman Ben Nichols' pre-Lucero band Red Forty was greatly influenced by Jawbreaker (one listen to the band's only release Discography and that much is evident) and he carried that influence with him.  The song was included as part of the 2006 reissue of The Attic Tapes (the band's first album).

A number of other bands and artists have covered "Kiss The Bottle" including Foo Fighters and Rise Against but I decided to simply go with the Jawbreaker and Lucero versions for this edition of Cover Wars because I think these two are easily the best and most compelling versions of this song.  Each rendition is so distinct and heart breaking and moving but in very different and unique ways.  I actually heard the Lucero version first, probably a good six or eight years ago, and have loved this song ever since.  Lucero was a band that I first discovered around 2010-ish alongside the likes of Chuck Ragan, Drag the River, and so on.  I'd known of these artists for years but hadn't heard them until then.  I think they were also bands that I needed to hear a bit later in my life (not that one's early 30s are all that late).  Subsequently, Jawbreaker was a band that I really didn't fully appreciate until my late 30s, despite the fact that I'd know and really liked their music for nearly two decades, the light didn't turn on for me until later.

Here are this week's contenders:

Jawbreaker


Lucero



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