Writing these up is a little strange. In the end, it's a way for me to tour through my music, remember assorted bands, and write down some stories for myself. It all feels pretty self-indulgent, but then again, I'm not really inconveniencing anybody. I guess I'm having fun, so that's good enough. Links to the music? Why of course!
Skeletonwitch, "My Skin Of Deceit"
Let me just say, "Skeletonwitch" seems like the kind of name somebody would cook up just to mock metal. And the cover art! Are there be-antlered undead things screaming? YOU KNOW THERE ARE! It all seems like a parody act. Sometimes, it's hard to tell with metal, really.
Skeletonwitch plays thrash music, basically, but with hissed and choked vocals that are straight out of old-school black metal. I picked up this album seeing if maybe this subgenre worked for me. It didn't end up being the kind of thing I wanted to listen to a bunch.
The Dillinger Escape Plan, "The Perfect Design"
This is more my speed. I've always liked unpredictability in music, and usually like having some extra cacophony in there to boot. And, well, cacophony is going to be one of the first words used to describe The Dillinger Escape Plan. Along with "dammit, turn that off!" This is music that's all over the map with frantic riffing and insane howling, lurching from place to place, but always with a plan. It's like math rock turned up to 11. Or 11,000. One Of Us Is The Killer is probably my pick for albums, but you can't really go wrong with any of them. I mean, unless you are horrified by chaos and noise.
Young Fresh Fellows, "Just Sit"
In high school, I was obsessed with They Might Be Giants, which I'm sure I'll discuss in greater detail at some point. What's relevant here is that TMBG namecheck the Young Fresh Fellows in "Letterbox", and when I saw a tape of The Men Who Loved Music by the Young Fresh Fellows in Hastings in Spokane, WA, I bought it. Because, hey, TMBG must have liked them! I wasn't really sure what to expect, honestly. It took a couple listens to get into, but I ended up loving the album. The Fellows play just straight ahead rock music, at times towards the garage rock end of things, but they were always smart and always wrote fun tunes. If you like the Replacements, it's worth giving them a try. I still think this album is my favorite, but everything from Electric Bird Digest and before is very good, with the exception of the unfocused Totally Lost.
The Gaslight Anthem, "Film Noir"
Springsteen worship, basically. I picked up this album based on some review that liked the back-to-basics approach, but it strikes me as such a recreation that I basically don't see the point. I'll just listen to the original instead, I'm not burned out on Springsteen. Let's move on.
Mephiskapheles, "Bad John"
There are plenty of products, bands, song names, and other things where you just look at it, and are pretty convinced that the name came first. The Worst Things For Sale, for instance, regularly catalogs things that were clearly brought into existence by a bong rip and "hilarious" name. I'm pretty sure that Mephiskapheles had the same genesis. At any rate, I'm pretty sure drugs were involved. As you might guess, the gimmick here is that they play ska! But with, like, Satanic lyrics!
Fortunately (?) for them, they actually laid down some fun songs. With Bill Laswell, of all people, behind the boards, the production on this song is incredible. Listen to how fuzzy and welcoming those drums sound! How round the bass is! The way the keys and guitar dance together! It's all delicious. And the horn solos are a lot of fun. Basically, this album is way, way better than it had any right to be, one of the biggest gaps in my entire collection from expected quality (based on the premise) and what it turned out to be. I threw in a few extra songs from this band on the playlist, because really, how often is anybody going to get the chance to listen to Mephiskapheles? The guitar intro for "Saba", twenty whatever years later, still gets stuck in my head unprompted from time to time. And, I sincerely apologize for the last track on there.