2013 was a fantastic year for music. It built the bridge between effort and results for a boatload of bands in just about every single scene you can imagine. While the year was downright killer for new things, 2013 also delivered heartbreak. On August 16th, Atlanta hardcore kings The Chariot announced that the end was nigh for their collective career. Hearts sank and flags rose as their farewell tour shredded its way through the country that autumn. Not much time after the disbandment, frontman Josh Scogin announced his next adventure, a rip-roarin’, two-piece, “roots-based” rock band by the name of ’68. What Scogin and drummer Michael McClellan have given us is just as expected: a wildly fun record that makes you bang your head without fail.
Something to notice right off the bat is the classic Scogin style of song titles on the record. The album consists of ten tracks, each with two names. Weird, right? It is presented thusly:
1. “Track 1 / R”
2. “Track 2 / E”
3. “Track 3 / G”
4. “Track 4 / R”
5. “Track 5 / E”
6. “Track 6 / T”
7. “Track 7 / N”
8. “Track 8 / O”
9. “Track 9 / T”
10 “Track 10 / .”
Upon first listen, I could already tell that In Humor and Sadness stylistically picks up where The Chariot’s One Wing left off, complete with southern-rock tendencies and gratuitous feedback in just about every song. “1/R” kickstarts things with infectious, ripping lyrics: “You created this world to give your heart a beat / and you’ve got nothing to prove / but you’re gonna prove it anyway”. “2/E” gives us a dirty, sludge-rock sound with lyrics like: “It don’t matter if you respect her belief / ’cause she can eat you like a full-grown disease” and begins to end with the repeated demand of “resurrect yourself”. “3/G” (previously titled “Third Time’s A Charm”) delivers the gang vocal approach we’ve been waiting for while “4/R” finds Scogin channeling Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die. Scogin’s trademark howl can’t be found in “5/E”, so I’m deeming this the “ballad” of the record.
The second half of the record kicks off with “6/T” and showcases McClellan’s drum technique magnificently throughout the dramatics of the track’s lyrics and string/horn additions. “7/N” begins like a ’90s road-trip jam but quickly picks up to what you’d expect and “8/O” (previously titled “Three Is A Crowd”) makes you wonder just how Scogin’s voice hasn’t been shredded to death as it acts as the vocal high point of the album. “9/T” acts as a sequel to “5/E”, with calmer vocals and an upbeat guitar riff throughout. “10/.” revisits every element heard from the previous nine tracks into one grandiose finishing move.
Josh Scogin’s diehard fans may still be in mourning over The Chariot, but his newfound partnership with Michael McClellan has created something quite fascinating. As balls-out as The Chariot was, In Humor and Sadness finds Scogin and McClellan tackling musical themes that would’ve seemed just too daring for The Chariot to execute. ’68 is an entirely different monster and should be treated as such. It takes some time, but it’ll soon find its way into your headbanging repertoire.