'68- Yes, and... (Album Review)

Sept. 27, 2023


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In a little less than two months, ten years will have passed since The Chariot called it quits.  That also mean Josh Scogin’s current band ’68 celebrates their first decade as well.  After spending a decade and a half in the metalcore and mathcore space with Luti-Kriss, Norma Jean, and The Chariot, ’68 represented something significantly different for Scogin.  Alongside drummer Michael McClellan, the duo opted for a more soulful step and the swagger of rock ‘n roll, bringing in elements of garage rock, noise rock, and everything in between.  By 2017 McClellan had departed and Nikko Yamada took over, with 2021’s Give One Take One continuing to experiment and branch out.  For their fourth full length Yes, and…, ’68 has opted to get both weirder and heavier.  That rock ‘n roll swagger and high energy approach is still intact, but this is a noticeably more abrasive and abrupt album that does what it wants, when it wants.

Yes, and… may come in at just over half an hour in length, but it’s quite the wild ride.  While not necessarily returning to chaotic metalcore or mathcore, it does seem like Scogin and Yamada have tried to capture some of the abruptness and jarring transitions through a rock context.  Opener “With Distance Between” showcases the type of back and forth you’re going to get from the album, as the song moves between sparse layers of distortion and loud, churning riffs that give off a Daughters vibe alongside other noise rock elements.  The moves between loud and soft are often unexpected and sometimes the band will settle into a bluesy groove before exploding into an off-balance rhythm where everything sounds like it’s on the verge of collapse.  Songs like “The Captains Sat”, “Removed Their Hooks”, and “Within the Hour, There Were No More” showcase “68 at their heaviest, and they really lean into this side more than before.  But then there’s “Let’s Be Friends” and “They All Agreed” which go for much softer, brooding melodies and explore everything from garage to alternative rock.  ’68 crams in a lot stylistically and seems to be having fun with constantly experimenting and reducing things from big, booming sound to near silence.  But even with this being the case, I found that the back and forth didn’t always land and some of the songs came and went without fully giving me enough to sink my teeth into.  When things do hit that peak level of heavy grooves and quirkier, abrasive hooks Yes, and… works well, but other moments jump around just a bit too much and don’t fully find their footing. 

While not all the instrumentation may click for me, I really like what Josh Scogin is doing on the vocal front on this album.  There’s a quirkiness to his singing that is infectious, and the lyrics show that ’68 is having fun with hopping all over the musical map and not taking themselves overly seriously.  There’s a lot of variety to the performance, and this is clear right from the start.  “With Distance Between” greets you with softer spoken word and singing, but transitions between distorted pitch shifted harmonies, yelps, and everything in between.  There’s a ton of attitude on each song that stays true to that rock ‘n roll spirit, and it makes “The Captains Sat”, “Removed Their Hooks”, and “End This War” in particular really pop out at the listener.  If you’ve not heard ’68 before but have heard The Chariot, you do still get some screaming at certain points from Scogin but it has a very different feel to it and is used to accentuate certain passages rather than being the focus.

A decade in, I can appreciate that ’68 isn’t interested in simply repeating themselves and is continuing to hop across all types of rock ‘n roll while going for something noticeably louder and quirkier on this album.  However, Yes, and… does feel like a hit or miss effort, as it’ll offer up some really catchy, heavy grooves and eerier soundscapes but then transition into ideas that don’t work quite as well.  The ones that do make this album well worth the price of admission, but it’s not quite my favorite from the duo even if I do applaud their attempts to push the envelope.  Yes, and… is available from Pure Noise Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg