Akimbo - Harshing Your Mellow (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Harshing Your Mellow (2002)


Wow. Just wow. I saw these guys open for The Blood Brothers in a small venue in Minneapolis and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. As only a trio, I was amazed at the sound they were producing. I immediately picked up their album after the show.

The best way to describe this band is "fuck shit up music." Something is always moving, whether it be insane guitar riff, mind-blowing bass riff, or crazy as hell drum fill. Seemingly sloppy at first listen, an intense precision underlines the music to be extremely rhythmic. Not only does this band experiment with tempo variations, but also time signature changes. And they do it extremely well too. When listening to the record, you don't have guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, but all four blending together in a gigantic homogenous mixture. It's like musical pudding. Delicious, and smooth.

If you really want to, you can pick out the individual instruments. The guitar is usually laying down melody with either a crazy chord or riff. The bass plays some of the sickest lines I've ever heard. The guitar is amazing in it's own right, but the bass actually plays harmony to the guitar chords most of the time instead of playing the root. Not only that, but chords are played a lot of the time also. The bass is treated like another guitar, utilizing effects like distortion and fuzz. Also, the bass player is actually the only guy who does vocals. Which, of course, brings us to vocals. This band presents a nice variation of your regular tough guy jock rock hardcore vocals. But then, it's not the high pitched scream of the "sasscore" variety either. It fits somewhere in the middle and takes a back seat to the music, which is the highlight anyway. The drumming on this record is heavy, hard, solid, and intense. The drums blend so well with the music that it's hard to say anything besides the fact that they are amazing.

My one lament about this album is the production. Mainly, the drums. They sound great, but the bass drum is much too heavy and the cymbals much too loud. If you play this record in a system that picks up a lot of bass, you're going to have to turn it down, otherwise the bass drum will echo and make the music sound off beat.

One of my favorite things about Akimbo is their songs titles. Favorites include: "When I am King I will Spit on the Corpse of Ray Manzarek," "Paul Ruebens Theatre," and "Steal Your Firstborn." Not to be left out, the title of the record takes a stab at stoners. There is a high level of arrogance surrounding this band that makes them that much greater.

What really ties this album together is the transitions. The record starts out with a white noise intro, one of the songs ends in a hip-hop breakbeat sample complete with turntable scratching, and yet another ends with a transition into a cheesy 80s keyboard line. The best transition comes at the end of "Fuck Everett, Fuck Tacoma." It's a long spooky noise deal with some sort of gasping in it, and then there's a line from an old move that goes, "I wish the dead could come back to life so I could kill you again," which leads into, you guessed it, the song of the same title. Genius. This album is meant to be listened to all the way through, which brings us to song length. The shortest track is 1:27, while the longest clocks in at 3:34. Short, sweet, and to the point, but you'd never expect how short these songs are due to the amount of rhythmic transitions that take place inside of them.

Let's see...what did I miss? Oh yeah, lyrically, this band dominates. "what ever happened to I don't care," "if I can't bleed you will bleed if I can't breathe you won't breathe," "it was a pretty knife that stabbed punk rock in the back red lipstick licked the blade as the blood dripped down in stagnant pools of apathy."

For my summary paragraph, I can only say one thing: this band will be the saviors of hardcore music. Fight against the tide of cookie cutters and embrace the innovation.