In Humor And Sadness
eOne Music/Good Fight Music
18 August 2014
by Hugh Platt
As sad as the disbanding on The Chariot in 2013 was, their frontman Josh Scogin’s decision to punctuate his career with this new band rather than muscling his (now former) band into the direction he has pursued here, was the right one to make. ’68 aren’t easily comparable to either them or Scogin’s other former outfit, journeymen metalcore outfit Norma Jean, and to try to foister the sheer visceral intent of these songs upon that band would not have been anywhere near as effective as letting them be their own thing is.
As much as Scogin provided a physical and commanding leadership aspect to The Chariot’s barely-controlled chaos, with ’68 we can safely say that there are no filters getting in the way of the messages he’s trying to convey. Apart from the rhythmic anchor of drummer Michael McClellan, ’68 is all Scogin. His hardcore roar – always more about strained emotion than fury or volume – returns intact, retaining that frantic, words-almost-tripping-over-each-other style right from the off as he roars “Pieces of you and pieces of me should come together” over and over in the climax of the album’s opener, ‘Track 1. R’.
Yes, that’s how the track’s are named. Scogin’s decision to leave the track names ambiguous (save for the “Regret Not” mnemonic that runs across the tracklisting) reflects back with the obstinate, take-what-you-will-and-be-damned approach to his songwriting. The album feels like a series of dips in and out of Scogin’s mindset throughout the recording process, refusing to sit into easy patterns beyond a charming sense of the ramshackle with regards to the idea of “studio perfectionism”. One minute is is lurking in the same rockpools of psyche-rock that Eighties Matchbox were so fond of delving – as with ‘Track 2. e’, before shuffling about with big riff alt-rock, as it does with the follow-on song, ‘Track 3. s’ It even sweeps between points within single songs – ‘Track 4. p’ flipping from a subdued almost dreamy country bassline into a guitar line significantly more confrontational.
’68 springboards off the riffs-given-space-to-breathe songwriting and production that made the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion work so well once upon a time. This album is a measured experience of balance and power, rich for its imperfections and the stormy manner in which it pushes and pulls itself through so many tones and timbres. This isn’t The Chariot, it makes no allusions to being like The Chariot, and by gosh, it is so powerfully stronger for that.
Sounds Like: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion with the Elvis-isms swapped out for rabbit-punch hardcore.
Standout Tracks: Track 1. R, Track 4. r, Track 8. o