Welcome back to Spotlight – a feature where we take an artist, old or new but often overlooked and unloved, and place them on a metaphorical pedestal. This week, we have a rather boisterous and exciting guitar/drum duo from the States that you might not have heard of.
Royal Blood’s latest album left you wanting a guitar/drum two-piece with a more primitive, raw edge?
’68 are a punk/noise rock duo from Atlanta, Georgia. Comprised of Josh Scogin (vocals, guitar) and Michael McClellan (drums), the duo have been crusading global shores since 2013. However, for Scogin, this is a project that has arrived well into his career tenure.
Scogin had previously been a significant part of metalcore bands Norma Jean and The Chariot. Following The Chariot’s final show in 2013, Scogin began teasing something new. If the mention of “metalcore” has deterred you slightly, fear not, as this project is heavy, but highly accessible to advocates of guitar-driven jams.
FOR FANS OF…
- DEATH FROM ABOVE’S SEARING TEMPOS
- PULLED APART BY HORSES’ VOLCANIC VOCALS
- JACK WHITE’S OCTAVE-LADEN GROOVES
- NIRVANA’S ‘BLEACH’
’68 possess little concept of the slow and meandering. Sure, you’ll find a few cuts with slower tempos, but the majority of the time you’ll find the pair trying their very best to wreck a sound system near you.
Their debut studio album ‘In Humor and Sadness’ (2014) was very much a spontaneous recording, with not much thought going into the writing process. Equipment took a royal thrashing as a maniacal Scogin would push everything to the limit – mostly his array of vintage amps. Blemishes and mistakes were left in the recording, resulting in a thoroughly red-raw romp.
’68’s start-up can be compared to Nirvana’s – in that ‘Bleach’ was a raw, unpolished product, then ‘Nevermind’ followed, a finely crafted and wholly evolutional record. In Humor and Sadness left ample room for improvement, and boy, did the duo’s sophomore effort capitalise on just that.
For a punk rock two-piece to release a record in 2017 that sounds relatively brand-new is a commendable feat. ‘Two Parts Viper’ is just that. Coming in at 32-minutes, three minutes shorter than its predecessor, Two Parts Viper is a tight ten-track affair that does not let-up.
If the two-minutes of hell-bent primal rage found within opener ‘Eventually We All Win’ doesn’t hook you in immediately, you’re doing it wrong. Play it louder. This track does well to harken back to Scogin’s heavier days, as well as hook first-time listeners in with its immediacy.
Scogin takes significant influence from Jack White, both tonally and vocally. Frequent use of octave pedals help maintain a wall of sound, only to be bolstered by McClellan’s emphatic drum performances. See ‘This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed and Blue’.
’68 possess a refreshing dose of unpredictability, as shown in ‘Without Any Words’. Scogin’s sinister opening lick tricks the listener into believing it will blow up the mix. Instead, it transitions ever-so smoothly into a light-hearted chord refrain.
CATCH THEM LIVE
After finishing a stint of dates across Australia and Russia, ’68 will be touring the US with The Bronx throughout September and October. You can also catch them at Louder Than Life Festival and Paulinerkirche in Germany.
Sep 22: El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Sep 23: The Rebel Lounge, Phoenix, AZ
Sep 24: 191 Toole, Tucson, AZ
Sep 27: Curtain Club, Dallas, TX
Sep 29: House of Blues, New Orleans, LA
Oct 01: Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, KY
Oct 03: Strange Matter, Richmond, VA
Oct 04: Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
Oct 06: First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Oct 07: House of Independents, Asbury Park, NJ
Oct 08: Night Bazaar, Brooklyn, NY
Oct 10: El Club, Detroit, MI
Oct 11: Subterranean, Chicago, IL
Oct 12: The Riot Room, Kansas City, MO
Oct 17: Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 18: Bunkhouse, Las Vegas, NV
Oct 19: The Casbah, San Diego, CA
Oct 22: Paulinerkirche, Göttingen, Germany
Two Parts Viper is out now, via Cooking Vinyl