Glassjaw’s discography is famous for turbulent guitar riffs, cascading rhythms and the animated vocals of frontman Daryl Palumbo alongside multi-instrumentalist Justin Beck. Although the duo are routinely categorized as rock, their artistry is far more complex. There are elements of metal, of screamo, of punk, of pop. Regardless of numerous lineup changes, they’ve been able to maintain their magic after 20 years in the game.
Glassjaw’s approach to music-making is nuanced and culminated with the critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2002’s Worship And Tribute. Considered one of the most notable post-hardcore records, it cemented the band as fixtures in the world of noise rock. The group’s sonic fluidity — which has Palumbo yelling at the top of his lungs one minute and then sweetly crooning the next — would inspire countless acts such as Every Time I Die, Touche Amore and Stray From The Path.
Glassjaw have released three studio albums since their inception, along with four EPs. They will embark on a tour celebrating a career that spans over two decades, with the first stop being tomorrow (March 10) in San Antonio. Their first two albums will be performed in their entirety. Before they do, Alternative Press selects 10 of their most influential songs to date.
“Ape Dos Mil”
From its slinky and supple introduction to its ominous lyrics, the second single from Worship And Tribute demonstrates how the group effortlessly execute melodicism. Their highly anticipated sophomore album displayed Glassjaw’s sonic malleability. Here, Palumbo has temporarily traded screaming for rhythmic crooning that proves just how alluring his voice can be.
“You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon)”
It takes a minute-and-a-half for sauntering percussion to transform into harrowing rage on “You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon).” The song is featured on 2011’s Our Color Green (The Singles) EP. The intense buildup and frenetic energy aren’t the only reasons this track is one of the most notable in Glassjaw’s catalog. The way Palumbo oscillates between tumultuous, heavy-metal instrumentation to a lucid and well-cadenced chorus is stark but impressive.
“Trailer Park Jesus”
Glassjaw are synonymous with concocting ferocious and pulsating anthems that are perfect for mosh pits. However, on “Trailer Park Jesus,” from Worship And Tribute, the group noticeably slow things down a bit. A slight flourish at the beginning of the song gives way to a more soulful side of Palumbo. “Trailer Park Jesus” becomes more ardent with the chorus (“I jumped ship/To a burning sow/Had a ball/Atom bomb”) but still maintains an elusive ambiance that captivates listeners.
“Who the fuck wants to live forever?” Palumbo callously remarks on the opening of “El Mark,” the title track from their 2005 B-side EP. It’s quite the roller coaster ride; heart-pounding wails transition to fun and lighthearted rhythms with a surprisingly simple and confectionary hook. A whirlwind guitar hook on the bridge (“Napalm the children/You’ve got to learn”) gives even more snarl to an already theatrical song — but drama is what Glassjaw do best.
“Siberian Kiss,” the second track on Glassjaw’s debut album Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, contains more yearning from the band than we’re accustomed to. Palumbo’s yells are more rapid in their discharge; the immense vehemence he possesses when he says lines such as “If I can’t have you, no one will” is agonizing. The music is doing its best to keep up with his fervor, making “Siberian Kiss” a thrilling experience.
“New White Extremity”
On 2017’s Material Control, the group’s most recent album and their first since 2002’s Worship And Tribute, ferocity is still at peak levels. But with “New White Extremity,” the facet looks beyond the subject of nihilism and takes a closer look at their physical environments. More specifically — the gentrification of New York City. Against the cacophony of guitar, Palumbo devastatingly reveals: “I’m searching for a familiar face in my surroundings.”
“Ry Ry’s Song”
“Ry Ry’s Song,” another notable track from Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, is perhaps one of the most venomous songs in their arsenal. Essentially, the group are calling out the polyamorous actions of a woman they know. Words are less aggressively shouted or more strategically enunciated; the drumming is less spastic and more controlled. Glassjaw embrace clarity instead of auditory turmoil — and the result is unforgettable.
Glassjaw’s 2011 Coloring Book EP contained the hollow atmospherics of “Gold.” On this particular track, Palumbo’s vocals surprisingly take a back seat to feverish drumming and the over sinister nature of the track. The group opt for unadorned lyricism to get the point across, and this time they’re desiring a certain kind of freedom: “How long before I breathe you out?”
“Convectuoso” originally appeared as track 12 on promotional copies of Worship And Tribute. It features an emotive Palumbo showcasing the natural dexterity of his vocals, with stripped-down instrumentation punctuating its effectiveness. His wailing is more restrained while his self-awareness startling. Glassjaw have long been criticized for their misogynist lyrics. On “Convectuoso,” the group acknowledge the sexism that has become reinforced by societal norms: “A notch on my belt is how you shall exist/A notch on my bedpost is how you shall exist/And no more no less/For the common good/That’s you, American womanhood.”
The opening track on Glassjaw’s debut album, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, is the perfect introduction for the rambunctious and high-energy musicians. It’s thunderous, it’s garish, it’s memorable. It also signifies a shift in the post-hardcore sound. They were ushering in an era where there was more room for experimentation and eclecticism. “Pretty Lush” brandishes Palumbo and Beck’s stylings as abrasive but accessible. It also gives way to the criticism that Glassjaw would face for years regarding how they spoke about women: “You can lead a whore to water/And you can bet she’ll drink and follow orders.”