Review Summary: A band and some special friends pay hommage to a falling fellow musician.
While every decade sees its fair share of bands enter the music scene in a flurry, only to fade into obscurity after releasing an album or two, there was something about the method in which the bands of the 1990’s achieved this classic pitfall of music. It seemed just as likely for a burgeoning, talented band to suddenly cease to be due to a variety of follies, ranging from drug addiction to the corresponding accidental overdose to eccentric personalities choosing to take their own lives. While there was no doubt (likely significantly more) bands that simply went down the “one hit wonder” road, the music of the decade remains submersed in tones of angst and dark melancholy, and still manages to hold a pretty firm following with those who grew up with it.
Before I lose myself - and the point along with it - in nostalgia, alt-rockers Snot
were one such afflicted band, though not really in the typical (to the time) sense. Formed in Santa Barbara, California sometime around late 1994 to early 1995, the band put a raw, punkish edge on the burgeoning nu-metal sound starting to rise. What separated the band from their nu-metal peers though was an affinity for using a varying degree of musical styles to build upon their metal influence, rather than drowning any kind of past musical interest into the background. Degrees of funk, rock’n’roll, and the alt-rock sound of the time played heavy on the metallic-edge of the band, creating some rather interesting compositions.
The band rose to prominence pretty fast, with dates on the Ozzfest tour and various other hot-spots, while making big friends with the major musical players of the time. This prominence would be extremely short-lived however, and the band would eventually be forced to call it quits (until an attempted reunion some eleven years later). What made this fall from grace hurt the most was that the bands frontman, James ‘Lynn’ Strait would only ever really put his vocals to one record. He was by far the most dynamic of the group, had a spirit that seemed to reach out to his fans, and a voice unique enough to keep it away from mainstream nu-metal clichés. What made Strait’s fall from grace hurt so hard was that he wasn’t that eccentric soul who saw no other choice but to take his own life; he wasn’t that junkie who just couldn’t control his habits and finally pushed a little too far. Rather, James Lynn Strait was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time: struck and killed by a drunk driver while driving with his dog Hobbs (featured on the band’s debut offering) and so Snot seemed to fade with him.
After some time spent mourning then considering how to carry on, it seemed decided the band would release all the material they’d finished for their sophomore record, with Strait’s lyrics (his vocal tracks had yet to be completed) and instead of looking for a half-assed replacement, looked to all the friends of Lynn’s he’d met throughout the course of his short career. As a result, the band penned Strait Up
, both a final Snot record and loving tribute to their fallen leader. The album features quest performances from guys like Brandon Boyd (Incubus), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Max Cavalera (Sepultura) and a multitude of others. The disc also features the last song with Strait’s finished vocals, remixed from a soundtrack and intended for the album in Absent
and perhaps the most haunting piece on the record, the more spoken word Sad Air
Since this is a record made up of various vocalists who aren’t really affiliated with the band, it seems pointless truly delving into Snot’s style. Though you’ll still hear shattered, almost beleaguered rumblings of Snot’s musicians and it’ll make you smile, you can’t doubt that each friend/guest vocalist couldn’t help but add their own voice and spin while trying to pay homage. If you haven’t heard them before, you probably aren’t checking out this album. If you have heard their first record, then you know what they sound like and there’s little else I can do to get that message across. This record is a nice tribute to a man who could’ve been a big force in music, and a nice example of the community-like nature of musicians in certain circles. In the end though, it’s really more of an attraction of the guest-artists that are featured here, but if that’s enough of a draw to the band, I suppose the job is done.
Also, Absent and Sad Air are tracks not to be missed by any fan of the band in this writer’s opinion, as one does an excellent job showcasing Strait’s voice while the other does a nice job at showcasing some potential sadness we never saw.