Washington, D.C.'s Jawbox was one of the premier post-hardcore acts in its day, up there with peers like Quicksand and Fugazi. Its discography is flawless, and each album offers a different twist on the same rocking formula. In a way, it's funny that Jawbox's final indie release, Novelty, would attract major label attention, since it's also arguably the band's heaviest record, but hey man, it was the go-go '90s. Times were different. Novelty walks a very fine line between punk aggression and rock precision. Jawbox could never be considered grunge, but I could totally see the band appealing to alternative fans thanks to an ear for melody and craftsmanship. In an alternate Earth, Jawbox is one of the most influential alt-rock bands of all time. These guys (and gal) could play like hell, but they never lost sight of punk rock's brevity. Novelty is a crushing record, but it never feels too cacophonous. It's technically accomplished, but never masturbatory. It is, simply, a really good record best played at loud volumes.