What I'm listening to right now

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SONG OF THE DAY: "Kinetic" by Osker

Osker is a largely forgotten punk band when it comes down to it. The L.A. band put out a split EP and two records, 2000's Treatment 5 and 2001's Idle Will Kill, both on Epitaph Records and both recorded while the band members were still teenagers. The band made a name for themselves as one of the most hated bands in punk. Though it's hard for me to find specifics about this now, they were known to antagonize, taunt, and insult their fans, the venues, and even the bands for whom they were opening (including the legendary NOFX!). The band promptly broke up in 2002 while preparing an album called Thriller that may or may not have ever existed.

Since then, the band and its members have basically fallen off the face of the earth. The singer, Devon Williams, went on to form a folkish band weirdly named Fingers Cut Megamachine, which released two albums and a few EPs in the mid-2000s. You might be able to dig up some of it on the Internet, but I could find little more than a few tracks on YouTube. He then began releasing some solo material of varying quality while flying almost completely under the radar.

It's really a shame that Osker never did more, because, considering how young they were and how incredible Idle Will Kill is, they could have gone on to do tremendous things in the scene. While their first album was largely angry, loud skate-punk, IWK showed a completely different side of the band. Although the punk sound largely remained, they mixed in acoustic guitar and piano, rhythm and tempo changes, more song and lyrical variety, and generally a massive increase in quality. Williams' vocals and lyrics began to take on a hint of the good kind of emo, while the punk sensibility remained.

I remember being floored the first time I heard this band, about a year ago. It's amazing that Idle Will Kill isn't remembered as one of the best albums in the genre, because I truly believe it was a unique achievement in sound, content, and quality. I've really never heard an album quite like it, and I've heard few albums this good. It will surely be an addition to the "Greatest Punk Albums of All-Time" series, if I ever get around to starting it.

It was a long struggle to decide which song to use to represent the album, because no one song can capture all the styles the band covers in just 14 tracks. If you like this song, I strongly urge you listen to the entire album. But, if time does not allow it, then listen to "Patience," "Strangled," "Disconnect, Disconnect," and "Anchor," in addition to "Kinetic." All of those tracks are outstanding and represent the band in its many different styles, so please explore this band further if this track catches your ear.

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