Sip O' Tea for the Devil
Skelter's sophomore album, Sip o' Tea for the Devil, shares the same Britrock flavoring as the band's debut, Boomstick. But whereas Boomstick drew almost exclusively from the Oasis/Who/Stone Roses school of guitar-based rock, Sip o' Tea expands the band's palette to encompass the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and even The Happy Mondays. All of these disparate sources are merely ingredients, though, in a unique musical stew. The album kicks off with the band's longtime show opener, "Hello Hello Hello," an invocation to lovers of all things Britpop. As the song cascades into feedback-laden madness, it runs headlong into the jarring punk-metal of "Indifference." The journey continues with "This is a Ghost Town," a Tex-Mex spookfest, and "Thirty-Two Pints," a bouncy call to lager that's one part Factory Records and one part Les Paul crunch. "Dawn Marie" may just be the quintessential Skelter song, in that it has all of the hooks of a Noel Gallagher classic and all the snarl of a '72 Plymouth Barracuda. "Die Happy" marks the vocal and songwriting debut of bassist Greg Ross. The song skillfully combines Sabbath-worthy riffing with ethereal melody, all the while shouting out to the characters of the WWE. Led-heavy guitars take a rest during "The Idiot," the kind of pop tune for which John Hughes would happily rewrite a fresh-faced teen misfit's reunion with his suburban princess just for it's inclusion. The album shifts back into fifth gear with the AC/DC-tinged rocker "Your Gray Hair" and the Zeppelinesque stomp "She's Gotta Move," before closing with the bitterly majestic mini-epic, "The Turning of a Screw." Interspersed between Sip o' Tea's songs is Trent McSwain, the gin-soaked alter-ego of indie filmmaker Alexander Gradet. Gradet's faux-nightclub introductions and meanderings bind the album with an almost Sgt. Pepper quality...if Sgt. Pepper had been recorded by Bob Goulet and the MC5.