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Incubus – Make Yourself (1999)

June 20, 2014

[Album 323/1001]220px-Incubus_make_yourself

I don’t care for the genre name ‘Nu Metal.’  Or ‘nu’ replacing ‘new’ in general, with the exception of Tobias Fünke’s Arrested Development license plate.

The new (that’s better) version of metal that peaked in the late-90s featured DJs & more emphasis on hip hop and funk than on speed.

An evolution, yes, but an improvement?  I found it was hit and miss.

The lead singers weren’t always the most appealing fellows, with Fred Durst being perhaps the movement’s poster boy.

Then again, after recently re-reading Chuck Klosterman’s On Rock, it’s clear the world’s biggest metal band isn’t exactly made up of endearing characters either!  (Incidentally, some of the ‘On Rock’ essays are terrific, full of fascinating insights into why artists released certain records at certain times)

Sadly, as with Lars Ulrich & company, I find myself liking several artists less after hearing them being interviewed.

Thankfully however, that’s not always the case; Incubus is among the groups whose stock climbed a bit after reading an interview transcript (with Neil Strauss).  They seemed like genuine dudes, getting along with each other, a refreshing lack of ego.

Make Yourself has some aggression (the title track) balanced with melody (I Miss You), some nice syncopated rhythms (Stellar) mixed with straight-ahead crowd-pleasers (Drive).  As he was brought in to do at the last minute with In Utero, Producer Scott Litt does a nice job of buffing out some of the rough edges without making it seem too polished & sterile.  And unlike In Utero, he was present & producing for the full recording here.

I was going to complain about the late-album funk of Battlestar Scralachtica disrupting the running order.  Then I was reminded of how it bothered me when a reviewer moaned about the late-album inclusion of the funky (if grisly-titled) Barbarism Begins At Home on the (equally cheerfully-titled) Meat is Murder.  So I withdraw my complaint, play that funky music Incubus!

Make Yourself is probably more rock than metal; fortunately it’s also more hit than miss.

From → 1990s

  1. “Never meet your heroes” is sound advice!

  2. I have one Incubus CD…not this one. I can’t remember the name. It was a lot more commercial. I liked it…I referred to them as “Faith No More Lite”. Or “Diet Faith No More”.

    Nice Tobias ref!

    • Borrowing that term, thanks!
      I used a similar one when a group called ‘Owl City’ had a massive hit a few years ago with the grade 9s called ‘fireflies.’
      I unceremoniously referred to the band as ‘Death Cab for Tweens/Teens’

      • Yup I remember Owl City. And I totally agree with your assessment of their music! Or his. I think Owl City is a one man thing.

      • Just confirmed via a google search – you’re right, it’s a one man project, learn something new every day!

      • Sort of like Eels!

      • How does it always come full circle? Impressive!

  3. Yeah, Lars is a nut…great drummer, but a nut. That is about the nicest critique I can muster without breaking out the salty language.

    • And I appreciate the restraint and avoidance of saltiness!
      I enjoy throwaway lines like “he’s something else” or “what a character” when I don’t have any nice praise to offer.

  4. Always judge musicians just by their music, and not their off-stage personalities. Mozart & Beethoven were reputedly a-holes.
    Hate that “Nu” too, struck me as being yet another music journalist invention.
    Tobias “Blue Man Understudy” Funke reference! Yeah!

    • I definitely try to stick to the music vs. the musician. When it comes to their personal lives, for me that’s one of those ‘ignorance is bliss’ areas.

      Surely Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution belongs on a Top 5 fictitious bands list!

      • Hahah!! loved Maybe’s so-bored-I-wanna-die tambourine playing

      • Not to mention George Michael as the human metronome!

      • They SO should have had him wear a “CHOOSE LIFE” T-shirt to play in 😀

      • I was thrilled when they acknowledged the name early on – can’t remember the exact quote but it was something like:
        Michael Bluth – “Hey George Michael, your uncle said he saw you at the docks earlier”
        GM – “maybe he meant he saw George Michael, the singer/songwriter”

  5. I don’t have any Incubus albums, but I really enjoy Drive.

    • It’s a good one to play on acoustic guitar, pleasant descending chord pattern, not too difficult and instantly identifiable!

    • Oh and Sarca, thank you for highly recommending Paul Weller/the Jam – I’ve really been enjoying Sound Affects!

      • Great!! Paul Weller is so versatile! I highly recommend you now move on to the Style Council. Now, go!

      • I work well with clear instructions – Cafe Bleu is playing as I type!

  6. I have a few Incubus albums, though can’t say I’m as familiar with the others as I am with this one. They’ve had a good few smashin’ songs and I reckon a bunch of them are on here (those you mention, plus Nowhere Fast and Pardon Me!).

  7. I missed this post and vote-no love for Ice T on a hot summer day?

    • And only I provided support for his Ice colleague, Cube. Vanilla, alas, was left of the 1001 list

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