Howdy folks! Welcome to the second episode of The Summer Jam 3: Electric Boogaloo! This week, we have Max Mobarry, guitarist/vocalist for Dayton, Ohio progressive metal outfit Others by No One, sharing his favorite summer records with us. Without further ado, please enjoy!
‘With summer I’m often out and about, and less cooped up at home listening to music recreationally – so the few records that end up accompanying me on my adventures and road trips really do define that time of year. June marks Others by No One hitting the road for the first time ever, no doubt adding many more to this list in short order as we make some lasting memories driving all around with our boys in Aviations. All that said, try peeping these jams so that you might join me in the appreciation and enjoyment of some really groovy, lasting summer tunes.
Catch you on the flip side, and until then may you fight with the strength of ten full grown men.‘
TYLER, THE CREATOR – FLOWER BOY
You expected prog? Watching Tyler ‘grow up’ very publicly as a young, controversial rapper over the years has culminated in a record that oozes honesty, humour, and hooks at every turn. Since Flower Boy dropped last summer, it has yet to find absence from my regular listening rotation, and accompanies me on all of my road trips. Right from the opening line of “Foreword” this album had me in its clutches, breathing some fresh air and a sense of hope and maturity into the genre (along with my dude Kendrick, of course).
DREAM THEATER – OCTAVARIUM
There’s the cheesy prog. A few summers back, all of us Others by No One boys were hanging with our buddy Brad (our longtime friend and videographer who directed our video for “Dr. Breacher”) almost on the daily – Brad also regularly had about three or four CDs in his car, and thus Octavarium became a memorable part of our adventures. Listening to the lurching grooves of “Never Enough” while cruising around moderately wealthy suburban neighborhoods really stuck with me – of all the Dream Theater records, I feel this one stands out as some of their finest compositional work.
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – DECONSTRUCTION
An album that fits on pretty much any list, as far as I’m concerned. I was finishing up my junior year of high school (yikes) when Deconstruction dropped, although I hadn’t even heard of the guy up to that point. Once the cast was unveiled (featuring my latest discovery/obsession at that time, Between the Buried and Me’s Tommy Rogers) it all seemed too ridiculous not to jump right in, and so I fell down the hairy Devin Townsend rabbit hole never to return. A monumental and relentless statement that provided that summer with a ton of fun (and cheeseburgers) and has remained a constant inspiration to me since.
ULVER – SHADOWS OF THE SUN
A collective of artists that are difficult to overstate, Ulver’s musical direction is one in a permanent state of shift. Almost immediately after making a name for themselves as one of the most unique black metal acts of their day, Ulver would drop the aggression and screaming entirely in favour of atmosphere, ambience, and electronica. Shadows of the Sun is a statement drenched in sadness, maybe some evil, and the coldness of the desert at night. A deeply emotional and foreboding experience that I recommend you take with darkness and a good set of headphones.
GREEN DAY – AMERICAN IDIOT
Somehow this one always ends up in the soundtrack to my most memorable summers. Arguably the pinnacle of pop-prog-punk if there was one, American Idiot is chock-full of great melodies, bangers of riffs, and Green Day’s finest writing. They’re far from the first act I’d pick to write an effective nine-minute progressive rock suite, but this album has two (“Homecoming” remains my favourite Green Day for its many twists and turns) – and damn, are they solid. I suspect maybe some prog or metal readers might find this pick surprising, I dunno, but this is an album I will gladly toss in the car and sing the hell out of every time.
GAZPACHO – DEMON
Oh man, this album. One of the lesser-known/more criminally underrated bands on this list, Gazpacho hit their stride with Demon in the form of a concept record detailing (and I’ll quote them directly): ‘the mad ramblings left behind by an unknown tenant in an apartment in Prague, delving deep within the demon that possessed the inhabitant and exploring the evil he has caused and all that he is capable of.‘ Extreme, dark, eerie, and gripping progressive rock at its finest, this goes right along with “Shadows of the Sun” as an exploration of all things spooky and inspired me directly while writing vocals for our own song “Death of a Clone”. Super recommend this one.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – of natural history
A shameless excuse to promote a few of my all-time favourite performers. To summarize, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are a collective of entertainers that blend the rock format with homemade instruments, art-rock and dadaist peculiarities, contemporary classical, and countless more weird adjectives that culminate in unbridled and unrivalled live performances. While the museum may have closed its doors, I strive to one day achieve the theatricality, ridiculousness, and joy that they brought me postmortem in my own projects. I had the opportunity to meet most of them last summer over dinner and coffee in their latest group (the similarly-titled Free Salamander Exhibit), after which they proceeded to put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Music and art that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve never seen a group of people that deserve to play together like these folks do.
Steam POWERED GIRAFFE – MK III
From the same summer of Octavarium and countless other things came my introduction to Steam Powered Giraffe, the singing robot band. Fronted by ‘The Spine’ and ‘Rabbit’ (real-life twins David and Isabella Bennett), SPG are far and away the most family-friendly act here, combining goofy vaudevillian antics with layers upon layers of gorgeous harmonies and a passion for the pop stylings of yesteryear. It was a toss-up between this album and The Two-Cent Show for me, but this album has a few more bangers to its name AND the introduction of my favourite third robot, ‘Hatchworth’. You simply can’t NOT have fun when it comes to these guys, grammar be damned.
coheed and cambria – good apollo, i’m burning star iv, volume two: no world for tomorrow
Speaking of great hooks and harmonies, Coheed and Cambria. Learning to drive on the highway for the first time was accompanied by this album and the absolute cliché of the wind blowing through my many hairs. The original finale to the band’s concept series The Amory Wars, this album is packed with epic moments and the catchiest choruses, just like any Coheed record – they’re a bigger influence on ObNO than even we realize, honestly.
BENT KNEE – SAY SO
I’d be remiss not to include these incredibly talented musicians that I am beyond proud to call friends, the fine-feathered folks of Bent Knee. A big part of my musical process (and it’s nothing new, really) is tossing all of the musical ideas I love into a melting pot and finding the compositional twist that makes it my own; every once in a while a band comes around that comes even closer to being that perfect storm of the many things I love, all in one place. Haken’s The Mountain, Native Construct’s Quiet World, and then Bent Knee’s Say So are all next-level records that had a drastic effect on my appreciation for music in recent years. One of the kindest and most democratic musical entities out there, ‘deviant pop’ is a phrase I’ve heard in attempts to summarize these guys/gals and it’s a pretty solid summation, really. Always writing and always creating, I’m always looking forward to what’s coming next from them and low-key dream of collaborating with them, someday.
Cut! That’s a wrap, everybody! Thanks go out to Max for contributing his great list to this feature. In case you have somehow lived under a rock for the last 14 months or so, his band Others by No One released a fantastic EP last year (you can read our review of it here). Come back next week for another artist-curated list of essential summer listens!