November 14, 2018

Skin Yard - Skin Yard (1986)

*Original first pressing on CD. Contains 15 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 1986-1991 C/Z Records
Review by No Opinions
In Skin Yard’s first and best album I detect traces of Red-era King Crimson, Killing Joke’s dumber “ambient” horseshit and the angry active funk of the Pop Group, all coalesced into a sleek band effort by professional musicians and pursued with the punk-band-as-bar-band ethos of Scratch Acid (a popular group in Seattle). The lyrics are conspiracy theories and Paul Kantner garbage about oppressive society and robotic nature of modern life. If Ben McMillan weren’t just that committed to the shit he says he’d be pretty funny, but as it is I can mostly ignore the words and concentrate on his fantastic fake-lounge singer voice, one of my favorites in the business. He had a good career with Skin Yard, rest his soul.
Hallowed Ground, the second Skin Yard album, comes close to being as great as the first but is unhinged by a glut of bland songs with plodding triple-meter sections (“G.O.D.,” “Throb,” “Burn”) slotted in between the terrific ones which make up the rest of the album. Fist-Sized Chunks has abysmal production and I’ve only listened to it a couple times (have not yet sampled the re-mix). And the last two albums are barely recognizable as Skin Yard because, I suspect, Jack Endino had been hooked by the 1991 release of his first solo album Angle of Attack and began hoarding all the good song ideas for his second one, Permanent Fatal Error, which was released in 2005. (And boy, are they good ideas.) 1000 Smiling Knuckles and Inside the Eye mostly just have one or two power chords per riff, and two riffs per song. It’s not really a “Skin Yard” mode of writing, and I never listen to those albums anymore.
As for Skin Yard, its great tracks are spread across both sides: “Skins In My Closet” is a bracing boogie about being true to oneself; “Reptile,” “Stuck In a Plan” and “Scratch” contain intricate interlocking parts in the style of the best progressive rock; and “Epitaph for Yesterday” and “Dear Deceased” resemble New Wave with no synths. I love “Jabberwocky,” a deceptively “free” track that invites comparison to the Beefheart of “Bellerin’ Pain” or “Hey Garland I Dig Your Tweed Coat,” and am disappointed in “The Blind Leading the Blind,” which is the reason why I mentioned stupid ambient Killing Joke horseshit above. The bonus tracks are surprisingly good — the only (partial) stinkers, once again, are slow jams “Bleed” and “The Birds.” When they get fast and funky Skin Yard are at their best, simultaneously lighter on their feet and heavier on the beat than the Minutemen, who were headed in a similar direction before 3-Way Tie. (Compare the funk of “Skinstruction,” for example, to that of “I Felt Like a Gringo.”) And Jack Endino and Daniel House are much better songwriters, too. I urge any fan of classic rock and post-hardcore punk to bump the first Skin Yard album on YouTube, and to purchase a CD from either Discogs or Jack Endino’s website.

tags: skin yard, skin yard album, 1986, flac,


Post a Comment