You know when a song belongs to J. Robbins. There's a jagged quality, with guitar riffs that seem to have been sharpened on stone, all grounded in oblique hummability. Robbins has been in D.C. rock bands like Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels and Office of Future Plans for more than three decades now, each with a different take on his signature style. But Robbins had never really been interested in a solo project until he started playing shows on his own, rearranging older Jawbox tunes and releasing new songs on Bandcamp.
Un-Becoming, the first album released under Robbins' own name, features familiar faces from previous bands: Peter Moffett on drums, Brooks Harlan on bass and Gordon Withers on cello and guitar. With "Soldier On," which is quite the song title for any lifer in music, there's a straightforward thrust not really heard on projects Robbins has released before. The tune almost sounds like Jawbox gone power-pop: The mile-wide chords and thickly distorted bass check off a few of his boxes, but the clean-cut song structure gets you in and out in less than three minutes.