After fronting American noiseniks The Chariot for a decade, Josh Scogin knows a thing or two about making a racket. Following the band’s demise, Scogin has formed '68; a two piece with him on vocals and guitar and Matt McClellan on drums. Their debut album ‘In Humour And Sadness’ sees Scogin remain comfortable doing loud music, despite playing with less musicians than he’s used to. The album also sees him stretch his wings a bit.
‘In Humor And Sadness’ starts with raging opener ‘Track one: R’ which has a Nirvana, 'In Utero' vibe to it with walls of feedback between the distorted and stompy riffs, unrelenting drums, gritty vocals and feisty lyrics like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove, but you’re going to prove it anyway’ all of which gets you pumped for the rest of the record. ‘Track two: e’ is much of the same and yet equally very different. It’s still raw with punchy loud moments, but slower and moodier overall with gentle guitar breaking up the fierceness. ‘Track three: g’ is another kind of beast; it is a huge hard rock number with a thick, groove driven riff and gang vocals which come together to create an epic noise.
Despite there being many different styles of guitar music explored across this album, all the songs flow nicely along with Scogin’s primal howl and rough strumming. Take ‘Track six: t’ for instance; it’s colourful, jangly indie rock for the most part, but Scogin still sounds unhinged as ever as he yells like it’s all he knows how to do. ‘Track seven: n’ goes even further down the indie route with warm summery guitar and positive lines like, ‘Everyone’s given up but I was born on a different day and I drink from a different cup’.
‘Track eight: o’ returns to the loud with jinky blues rock; the jinks being pauses between the heavy guitar stabs. It’s perhaps the most memorable song on the album with the ‘Hey, I still got a lot to say’ and ‘my bags are packed and I’m leaving a stranger’ hooks. Not to mention the catchy as hell riff and jaw dropping ending with collapsing drums and sharp high chords. ‘Track ten: .’ closes the album with an approproately intense track fulled by a hypnotically repetitive riff that is full of suspense before it goes into some stringy guitar noodling. It later leads into a bit of post-rock with swaying quiet/loud dynamics along with delicate piano, but this just shows how wildly unpredictable the album can get, even in the space of one song.
‘In Humor And Sadness’, frankly, is a brilliant rock album that shows Scogin and McClellan not only pulling off many styles of rock music, but excelling at them. In the process, they have brought out one of the best guitar releases of 2014. If you love guitar music and love the many flavours of guitar music, then this is for you. It can be just as raw, aggressive and in your face as it can be chilled out and friendly, often switching between the two in an instant, but never rehashing itself. It just goes to show how much can be done on a six string instrument.
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