Metroschifter

Midwestern 90’s emocore with a whole lotta Kentucky pride…

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Every post on this site is meant to be a constantly evolving diary of my musical views. Therefore, any and all posts should be considered incomplete at any given time.

If you were a kid in Louisville in the early to mid-90’s, and you cared about underground music, you probably knew of Scott Ritcher. He ran Slamdek Records, which put out a bunch of great records during that period, and fronted 2 bands: first, Sunspring, and second, Metroschifter.

Sunspring’s Poppy was the first “local” record I ever bought. Metroschifter’s debut LP, Capsule, was probably second or third. 

In fact, a bunch of my pals and I were pretty into Metroschifter, and looking back, I still see why. Especially during that 1994-1995 period, they put out some really great music. 

After that, they made a huge misstep with their 3rd album, and I think we just stopped caring. And that’s unfortunate! Because they made some great music after that…

So here it is, my ongoing retrospective and assessment of The Fabulous Full Throttle Metroschifter Capsule…

ALBUMS

Metroschifter Capsule cover

Capsule

Release Year: 1994
My Rating: A


Great is great. Their debut LP is just a fantastic slab of no-nonsense hardcore rock and roll music. The songs and playing are tight, and Scott Ritcher's vocals are just right.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Overlap", "Marker", "Flat"

Fort Saint Metroschifter cover

Fort Saint Metroschifter

Release Year: 1995
My Rating: B+


This one has a little more flair (flange) than their debut, and the instrumentals in particular are highlights. Only problem is really that it's too short!

HIGHLIGHTS: "Finder", "Piddle Looper", "$39.00"

Metroschifter Generation RX cover

Generation Rx

Release Year: 1996
My Rating: F


Not even a decent acoustic record to start, and it's just this weird speed bump in the Metroschifter's otherwise pretty solid discography. Scott Ritcher could have released this as a side project of some sort and it might have been enjoyable on one level, but this just feel's like a massive inside joke. I don't give an "F" easily, but given just how bad this record is AND the way it disrupts an otherwise solid discography, it's deserved here.

HIGHLIGHTS: none

Metroschifter 4 album cover

Metroschifter 4

Release Year: 1997
My Rating: A-


In a better world, this would have been Metroschifter 3. It's a grower, longer and with more depth than their first 2 LP's. Some nice Slint-ish parts really round it out well. A strong return to form after the head-scratcher of Generation RX.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Advil", "Know Where You're Going", "Alphabetical"

Metroschifter Encapsulated cover

Metroschifter Encapsulated

Release Year: 1997
My Rating: C+


Like Generation RX, another head-scratcher. For LP5, Metroschifter decided not to make studio a studio album themselves, but instead to give their latest batch of songs to other bands. What you have is a Metroschifter album that is a compilation of other bands covering their music. Now this might have been a fun idea as a companion album, but the thing is, this a great set of songs that Metroschifter should have recorded themselves. Sure, we get some studio versions on other releases, but like Generation Rx, this just feels like a strange novelty. Disapppointing, because I think it could have been a really good Metroschifter album. SPECIAL NOTE: The MT Rhoades performances here are outstanding. Pat McClimans, Metroschifter's bassist, does great work.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Here In Your Mind", "Dear Hilary", "Under Pressure to Exist"

Metroschifter Carbonistas cover

Carbonistas

Release Year: 2009
My Rating: B+


A decade later, and boy, Metroschifter was ANGRY! The band returned to the PISSED OFF HARDCORE of their debut LP, and honestly, it was pretty good stuff! Hey, even that little country excursion works pretty well, too! Ritcher still can't sing though...scream, yes...sing, nope...

HIGHLIGHTS: "Goodbye Narragansett", "Knob Creek"

OTHER RELEASES

Metroschifter New Mexico Drum Machine demos cover

New Mexico Drum Machine Demos

Release Year: 1994
My Rating: Meh


Exactly what it says. The album is far superior, but a few of these early versions are pretty interesting, esp. "Flat".

HIGHLIGHTS: "Flat"

Metroschifter For the Love of Basic Cable cover

For the Love of Basic Cable 7"

Release Year: 1995
My Rating: fantastic 7"


Two of their best songs right here. It's a great standalone 7" single.

HIGHLIGHTS: both tracks

Metroschifter Acoustic split with Falling Forward cover

Acoustic split with Falling Forward 7"

Release Year: 1995
My Rating: swell


Two nice acoustic songs.

HIGHLIGHTS: "e"

Metroschifter Songs from the film Number One for a Second 7

Songs from the film Number One for a Second 7"

Release Year: 1995
My Rating: isn't this part of LP2?


Both of these tracks are pretty good. Not sure why they needed a standalone 7" though - shoulda just been officially the last two tracks on Fort Saint.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Smart Bomb"

Metroschifter Let’s Get This Party Started cover

Let’s Get This Party Started

Release Year: 1997
My Rating: meh


A little curio - the demo tracks ain't bad I guess...

HIGHLIGHTS: "Drive (1993 demo)"

Shipping News Metroschifter Split EP

Metroschifter & Shipping News split CD

Release Year: 1998
My Rating: B-


Tracks 1 and 3 are decent Schifter - "Now", not so much.

HIGHLIGHTS: "It Used To Be So Easy"

Metroschifter Picture Disk 7"

Release Year: 1998
My Rating: B+


With this and the Strawberries EP, we get a little taste of what Encapsulated might have been like had they recorded it themselves. The verdict? Pretty darn good. 3 solid tracks here.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Impossible Outcomes"

Metroschifter Strawberries EP cover

Strawberries EP

Release Year: 1999
My Rating: B+


Pretty good, just too short.

HIGHLIGHTS: "Actress"

Other Tracks

  • "Strung Out On Music"
  • "I Don't Like This Anymore"
  • "Moving Closer to the Source of Heat"
  • "Nordberg": This is a cool song. Not sure why it never got more than the acoustic treatment, as it's more of a rocker anyway.

RELATED

Sunspring

I'm sure I'll do a writeup of Sunspring at some point. They made some great music, and deserve some attention. In my mind, Metroschifter was Sunspring 2.0. Actually, I believe the songs on Capsule were supposed to be the a new Sunspring album at first. Not sure why Scott decided to stop playing the Sunspring songs, as there were a whole bunch of great ones ("Faceless", "Magnet", "Roadburn", "Slightly On", "Diet Zero", "Don't Just Stand There", "Desert Song", "Civic VX"). Anyway, take your pick...

  • Sunspring = proto-Metroschifter
  • Metroschifter = Sunspring 2.0
  • Sunspring : Metroschifter :: Split Lip : Chamberlain :: Endpoint : By the Grace of God

It's something like that.

Tramlaw / MT Rhoades

Pat McClimans is a very talented musician. In addition to laying down some outstanding bass work in Metroschifter, he's had his own songwriting projects over the years that have a distinctively southern rock flavor. I'll offer a few thoughts on those...

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