It's easy to see how post-punk luminaries Jawbox became a major influence on today's emo sound. The band's third album, 1994's For Your Own Special Sweetheart is a masterful blend of tense guitars, crashing rhythms, tumbling beats and sing-along hooks that both clashed with the instrumentation and made the songs more accessible. "Savory," for example, features tinny, ringing guitars and a brash counter-riff that rubs against the melodic vocals like coarse sandpaper.
Frontman J. Robbins was once a member of Dischord's progressive hardcore band Government Issue, and while GI wasn't an emo band, they were surrounded by first-wave Dischord emocore bands like Rites of Spring, the Faith, and Embrace. Being in that circle no doubt rubbed off on Robbins; Jawbox incorporates that style of heart-on-sleeve emotion with shards of dissonant post-punk.
Clearly, outfits like Fugazi, Big Black and Gang of Four also influenced Jawbox, but the DC quartet were able to weave those inspirations into a tuneful tapestry that never lacked urgency or intensity. And while songs like "Cooling Card" and "Jackpot Plus!" tapped into the alternative radio crowd, "Cruel Swing," a dissonant avant-jazz/blues romp and "Whitney Walks," a spectral rumination slashed by shards of volume, displayed a more experimental side of this gifted band.