The spirit of The Chariot is alive and well in ’68, former lead singer Josh Scogin’s newest brainchild. Joining Josh on vocals and guitar is Michael McClellan on drums. Yep, that’s the whole band. So named for the simplicity the name espouses, this mere two-piece matches up to any band twice the size in both quality of music and fullness of sound. They play a very raw brand of experimental noise rock that’s at times every bit as chaotic as The Chariot was but with even greater range, giving Josh’s growing songwriting talents an opportunity to shine.
Josh has expanded his musical instincts and talents even further here, combining Michael’s evident drum skills with his own dizzying array of guitar progressions, riffs, and feedback. Along the way we hear Josh scream, speak, yell, sing, croon, and everything in between while touching elements of metal, hardcore, indie, punkabilly, americana, blues, and southern rock with generous portions of experimental noise grafted in. The vintage amps help lend a lo-fi garage band quality to the sound. The result is pure energy, and a joy to listen to.
“Track 1 R” kicks off the album at full throttle with an infectious surf punk vibe and Josh letting it all hang out. The band even turns the last minute of the song into a rockin’ jam session. “Track 2 e” slows thing down for a second with a western-tinged indie rock song reminding me of Starflyer 59 until it suddenly crashes headlong into pounding drums and Josh yelling about revolution, churches collapsing, and being “a six foot man in the middle of a grave”.
“Track 3 g” shares much common ground with The Chariot–a lot of random noise, yelling, shifting time signatures, and a choir reminiscent of that heard on The Fianceé, particularly the song “And Shot Each Other”. All the while, Josh pleads with the listener.
“May your response be riddled with truth. May your responses be nothing but trust.”
“Track 6 t” gives Josh the opportunity to thank his supporters, all the while further exploring experimental territory as he repeatedly cries out, “proper compromise in worship!”
The theme of mellow, soothing moments juxtaposed with crashing, feedback-drenched guitars, driving drums, random chaos, and Josh’s impassioned yells carries on throughout the album to great effect. The only track that takes the volume out of that mix is “Track 9 t”, a lo-fi blues-drenched song that’s like taking a deep breath before the epic album closer. “Track 10 .” is a no-holds barred kitchen sink of a song that shifts styles, keys, and tempo at will, leading up to gothic vocals combining with Josh seemingly leaving his guts on the floor as he screams “Here I am!” .
Combining everything that’s great about a raw, experimental garage band, this is a far better album than I ever hoped for. My only complaint is that at less than 35 minutes, it’s over far too soon. If The Chariot had to die for ‘68 to be born, it may have just been worth it. I cannot recommend In Humor and Sadness highly enough, which easily makes it my album of the year.