Saturday, November 24, 2012

Punk Still Sounds Good

Skychief.  Autoexciter.
Blimp/Love Muffin Records, 2009.  
Skychief: or

Yes, this is an “older” album (but I listen to stuff from the 1920s, so “old” is relative).  But Skychief is a fine band, and they haven’t gotten nearly as much press as they should (not that this review will help much).  Coming out of Akron in 2000, they’ve only put out two releases, and this is their second.  They’ve gotten a bit of airplay locally, but never really broken through to a national audience.  I suppose it’s because they follow in the punk tradition, and other styles have overwhelmed the popular imagination.  But damn, these guys sound good.

They’re pretty straightforward, all about guitars and a strong beat.  The singing is secondary (although they come up with some pretty good harmonies), as is clarity of production.  However, since when did any of that matter in punk?  “10 Hours” opens the album, and it sets the tone--fast, loud, and snotty--and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Songs are short and simple, but with more complexity in the guitar-playing than you would have found in similar bands in 1979. Taffi and Disco Steve come up with some nice guitar solos.  By track 3, “1000 Orchards,” they’ve slowed down to mid-fast tempo, but seldom slower than that.  "Naughty is Nice" even takes me back further than punk, to the old garage bands of the 60s, and wouldn't have been out of place on a Standells album. You may hear a touch of Akron bands from the past, Bizarros, the Dead Boys, and others from elsewhere such as Social Distortion, since they clearly follow in steps of their predecessors, but somebody needs to keep it going.  And who better, since Skychief knows how to do it right?

Personnel:  Taffi (guitar, vocals), Disco Steve (guitar, vocals), Ric Nimrod (bass), Smitty (drums).
Tracks:  10 Hours, Upside Down, 1000 Orchards, Michelle 3, Way In, On the Cross, Windows, Feels Like June, Naughty is Nice, Darkside, Feeling Low, Seeds.


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