Night of the Living Shred is here to cheer you up 

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At this point, we could all probably use a dose of levity in our lives, right? Well, as if right on cue, gonzo thrash trio Night of the Living Shred have completed a new LP, Return of the Living Shred, which is certain to raise everyone’s spirits. I mean this in both the amusement way and the grim, undead metal kind of way.

Now of course tastes in humor are as subjective as tastes in music. At least for my personal tastes, much of what constitutes humor in music can often fall flat — it’s easy for the comedy to be either too broad or self-consciously “wacky” in a way that suggests the artist isn’t aiming for something terribly original. But the pendulum can easily swing too far to the other side, and the proceedings just become insular in-jokes that are impenetrable to most audiences.

Return of the Living Shred, however, manages to hit a sweet spot in its singular thrash-comedy. The collective musical knowledge and literacy of extreme genres possessed by brothers Bryan and Sean Ostrow and drummer Cliff Mikkelson is clearly vast, but the jokes — and their overdriven delivery — are immediate enough that I’d imagine almost any listener would find them funny.
(Well, except perhaps Morrissey, who is the subject of the track “Morrissey may be an Asshole, but… Yeah, He’s Just an Asshole.” But then I doubt he finds much of anything funny.)

Over the course of the LP’s 28 tracks, the trio tackle everything from sludge to grindcore to black metal to barbershop quartets to synth-led post-punk with a manic, cartoonish energy. Hilarious musical simulacra of AC/DC, Disturbed and Mike Patton are conjured in the service of one-liners. The track “Skateboarding is not a Crime, Unless it’s on Private Property” tells the most tragic story since Mike Muir tried to get a Pepsi back in 1983. There’s even a trap excursion where the trio raps about getting absolutely gone on Flintstones children’s vitamins.

The frenetic energy on display won’t be a surprise to anyone who has caught Night of the Living Shred live, but it’s quite impressive that the band managed to conceive of and execute this set in just one day.

“It’s actually really fun how the album came together,” explains Bryan Ostrow. “Cliff, our drummer, lives in Austin, Texas. He was in town in December for a few days to play the Triple Nickel anniversary show, and since he was here, I called my buddy’s studio [Schylar Woods’ Wescott Pro Audio] and set up a full day. So I was like, okay, dudes! We’re recording a whole album in a day!”
The LP is set to release on May 1, and while the deluxe “Pizza Pack” editions are already sold out (alas!), you can still get a limited edition, green vinyl LP through the band’s Bandcamp page.

Elsewhere, new music is also now available from singer-songwriter Jeremy Facknitz, who released his new LP From Those Sweet Ashes on April 16. If you happened to miss Facknitz’s Facebook livestreamed performances or his music video for “Son of a (Suicide, Part 2),” be sure to check those out, along with his wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, quarantine-themed new music video for the track “Ballet of an Unhatched Chick.” Facknitz’s live-in-person album release show has been rescheduled for Oct. 22 at Stargazers Theatre.

And if you’re in the mood for “a concept album about people who still get milk delivered to their house” — and who wouldn’t be? — check out Spruce Aly, the debut LP from Boulder-based act Sunnnner. Formerly known as Sad Bug, our musical neighbors to the north are currently donating proceeds from their debut album and the compilation DIYCASUAL(TY) Cancellation Compilation, also available on their Bandcamp page, to various timely relief efforts, including SPAN Boulder and the Boulder County COVID-19 Recovery Center for Unhoused Individuals.


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