By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
On June 13th, 2019, Rockaholic, Rabit, Tricky Ricky, and I went to Mayan Theater in Los Angeles to catch Swedish metal giants Avatar. There were 3 opening acts that included Devin Townsend and Dance with the Dead. The first band caught our eyes and ears instantly, and we got hooked onto them. They are a duo band calling themselves ’68. Like I said, they are a two-man group that consist of guitarist/vocalist Josh Scogin and drummer Nikko Yamada. They play punk/noise rock, and they love to play it loud. I have been following since that concert, and they just finished recording their third album, Give One Take One. This record is their second under the Cooking Vinyl label, and it is being produced by Nick Raskulinecz, whose credits include Alice in Chains, Korn, and Foo Fighters. Looking to step up their game, let us listen in to see if they can bring the noise even louder.
“The Knife, The Knife, The Knife” is one of the two singles released, and it is a doozy. Scogin plays a blues riff infused with punk rock. The kind of pedals and distortion he uses is very passionate. There is intensity in his voice as he tells the audience to sing along. Yamada is steady as a rock on the drumbeat. “Bad Bite” is the first single, and the bite is vicious. I love the wild, bombastic drumming of Yamada as Scogin screeches impulsive wails on the guitar. The sound is very edgy, fast and raw. The addition of rapid claps is a very nice touch. Up next is “Nickels and Diamonds.” There are snippets in the song where Scogin adds a little of surfer rock into the mix, which sounds similar to what Dick Dale would play. The way this is arranged, it pays homage to the classic heavy garage rock vibe perfected by the Kinks. “What You Feed” features a lower sound coming out of Scogin’s guitar. Tuning his guitar down gave him a fatter, darker sound that belongs in a Quentin Tarantino flick. ’68 aim to bring some heavy, psychedelic rock into this tune, and they nailed it. Next is “What You Starve,” which is the complete opposite of its predecessor. The elements of swing are featured, making the song more danceable. Scogin channels his inner Brian Setzer with his playing. Yamada puts on a snappy jazz performance with his playing.
We are halfway through the LP as we approach “The Silence, The Silence, The Silence.” It is the shortest track clocking in at 1:40. It may be short, but it packs strong punch as ’68 show off their jazz technique. Yamada goes postal as if he is Art Blakey or Buddy Rich. “Life and Debt” is more emotional as the beat slows down. Scogin not only tames his vocals, his distorted guitar is sounds exquisite. Though Yamada slows the beat down as well, he does not lose his edge. Definitely one of the highlights off Give One Take One. “Lovers in Death” brings ’68 back to their noise rock attitude. Scogin taps into his hardcore background as he chops away at the riff with a ‘ch-ch-ch-ch’ effect. This song fills up with pent up angst that is waiting to explode at any moment. “Nervous Passenger” has a psychedelic, swing feel in the beat as well as the attitude. This song rather reminds of the Yardbirds’ classic “Shape of Things.” I have to say, this is one my personal favorites. I am sure it will catch fire with their audience soon enough. ’68 bring it home with “The Storm, The Storm, The Storm.” Clocking in just over six minutes, this is their longest song to date. It has some elements of doom metal, as the music is very gloomy. Scogin is smooth with his voice and guitar playing, and Yamada restrains the drumming to keep the beat simple. This song is the calm after the storm.
Hard to imagine that Give One Take One is only ‘68’s third album because the way they put this record together, they sounded like veterans. Scogin and Yamada are mad scientists creating explosive music. I really dug the experimentation they did, combining different genres with their signature noise rock attitude. Working with Raskulinecz has helped step up their game. The direction they are headed in should be nothing but prosperous for them, as their creativity is on fire. So listen in and bring the noise yourself. To ’68, I salute you. Horns up!!!
1. The Knife, The Knife, The Knife
2. Bad Bite
3. Nickels and Diamonds
4. What You Feed
5. What You Starve
6. The Silence, The Silence, The Silence
7. Life And Debt
8. Lovers In Death
9. Nervous Passenger
10. The Storm, The Storm, The Storm
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