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Pre-order the new Gordon Withers album

Copyright Cathy Seeley

Back in 2007, cellist Gordon Withers recorded an album of Jawbox covers, showcasing the compositional strength of the group’s literate D.C. post-punk/hardcore. As someone who played the cello growing up (and occasionally since then), Withers’ talent and ingenuity made me green with envy. He captured their melodic grace, their stabs of dissonance, and their emotional core, taking interesting and unexpected approaches to translating J Robbins’ vocals, Robbins and Bill Barbot’s parrying guitars, and Kim Coletta’s rolling bass lines. It’s the sort of project that usually sounds more interesting on paper than in actuality, but Withers managed to make it compelling.

If the achievement alone wasn’t enough, all proceeds from Jawbox on Cello: A Benefit for Cal Robbins went to J’s son, Callum Robbins, who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Withers wasn’t alone in his charity—there was a great 2CD compilation, bands like the Dismemberment Plan, Snapcase, and Arcwelder reunited for shows, and hey, you can donate directly as well—but his album was such a unique, personal tribute.

All of this lead-in brings me to his new album, which is now available for pre-order. But it’s no normal pre-order. The album has been recorded—by J. Robbins, of course—but the mastering and physical pressings still await funding. This is where you come in. If Withers gets $2,500 by October 14th, the album will happen. The range of donations is tantalizing— for starters, a buck gets your name’s in the liner notes, a fiver gets you the mp3s, eight bucks gets you the CD, ten gets you the vinyl and two bonus tracks. Past that, things get progressively more interesting. For $50 you can get the vinyl and either a custom piece of artwork from Dave Gonzalez or a cello-ized song of your choice. (Rodan’s “Darjeeling” is awfully tempting.) $100 gets you both. For $500, you get everything plus a solo performance from Withers in your house for you and your friends and even a cello lesson if you want. It’s an impressive array of options.

Withers is currently halfway there, leaving over $1200 to go. Not to sound like a broken record about supporting music, but this pre-order is a perfect opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. I’d love this sort of funding to become commonplace, so help Withers set a great, encouraging example.