You don’t need to be a skate nerd to know Nyjah Huston, but if you don’t know Nyjah Huston, it’s probably pretty safe to assume you don’t really fuck with skateboarding. The dude is a transcendent figure and a superhuman force. He’s 23 years old, and somehow he’s been so good for so long that he’s amassed an army of detractors who mostly dog him for being too good. And even the haters will admit he’s never been better than he is right now.
Anyway, one of the clips included in the newest episode of Skateline comes courtesy of Nyjah’s Instagram. By way of commentary, Skateline’s hysterical host Gary Rogers opens with a little light trolling: “Style? New trick? Nyjah? Never in the same sentence. No. Just doesn’t happen. I’m sorry. We’ve seen it all before, he just does it at a higher grade than everybody else.”
Then, Gary glances over his shoulder at the screen behind him, on which Nyjah is doing a frontside/backside noseslide up/down a rusty rail in what looks like slow motion in both directions. It’s stuff you see in video games, not real life. Here, Gary points and says:
Never seen nobody do this. Not even on accident, on purpose, nothing … What do we do? What do we do? … ‘Cause we are in fuckin’ trouble.
Thing is, back in February, Nyjah dropped one of the best skate videos you’ll ever see: an 11-minute highlights reel titled ‘Til Death. The Skateline-highlighted Instagram clip, though, was a throwaway line captured on an iPhone at a shitty skate park in Burbank. The whole thing is less than half a minute long. And it’s still a daunting display of world-beating ability. It’s even more intimidating because, to Nyjah, this is nothing.
Watching that Skateline segment reminded me a whole lot of how I felt when I first heard Private Room, the soon-to-be-released three-song EP from Ontario-based quintet Counterparts. See, last September, Counterparts put out one of the best records I’ve heard in years. It’s called You’re Not You Anymore. I haplessly strung together some words about it for our list of 2017’s top 50 albums. I didn’t do it justice, but I did my best:
If I had to triangulate You’re Not You Anymore, the fifth album from Canadian melodic hardcore band Counterparts, I’d put the music on a map somewhere between Converge, At The Gates, and Jawbreaker. But Counterparts stand too tall to fall in the shadows of their forebears; YNYA resists reference points because it is a reference point. The album comprises 11 tracks that are done in under half an hour, but it has enough ideas for a hundred songs, and somehow, it all flows like a single perfect sentence. YNYA is elegant, expansive, wrenching, and ripping. The album’s fierce shifts and brutal slams rattle the dome like a head-on car crash; its sweet hooks rush the body like an Oxy rail. There are drum patterns and guitar leads that sound like dares — outrageous highlights-reel shit that sane people avoid for fear of either embarrassment or injury — but they’re locked so tight into the songs you don’t even clock them till the third spin. The low end has the texture of hot pitch being shoveled onto a cracked highway. The vocals sound like a metal bin full of broken glass being dragged through subway tunnels off the back bumper of a D train, express, from Bay Parkway to the Bronx. This is fire.
Almost a year after its release, I still find YNYA to be nothing short of astonishing. I can honestly award it the very highest compliment I can imagine: I still listen to it a lot.
If Private Room were the first taste of a new Counterparts LP, I’d be clearing space in the upper reaches of my best-albums ballot right now. If it were just an EP of material written in the year since YNYA, I’d be over here raving about how Counterparts have leveled up again. But it’s neither of those things: It’s a triad of tracks recorded during the sessions for Counterparts’ last two full lengths — YNYA and 2015’s Tragedy Will Find Us — and it still absolutely lays waste to the world. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to each of these three songs more than any other one song released in 2018. And the EP doesn’t even come out till next month.
I can’t say with absolute confidence that the song we’re premiering today, “Selfishly I Sink,” is the absolute best of the lot: First lead single “Monument” is fucking savage, and the not-yet-released “We Forgive” is a goddamn fireworks display packed with arena-huge hooks and Mustaine leads. Those songs rule. But “Selfishly I Sink” also rules. For most bands, this lone song would be an obvious career highlight. For Counterparts, though? It’s an outtake from the YNYA sessions. If it had been included on the full-length, it would have been a standout. It’s everything I love about Counterparts — and just about everything I want in music, period, forever — in a two-and-a-half minute blast.
And remember: This is a throwaway. This is Nyjah kicking it at the park with his boys on a dead afternoon. This is what Counterparts leave on the cutting-room floor. Yes, I’m serious. And seriously, every moment of this music is thrilling, but the Nyjah noseslide moment comes right around the 1:10 mark: That motherfucking riff, man. No, wait. Sorry. Lemme code that properly:
THAT MOTHERFUCKING RIFF!
That’s the point where other bands who scream a lot over loud guitars should fucking panic in earnest. “What do we do? What do we do?“
You can’t do anything, though. You can bow down. You can let it crush you. You can’t do anything else. Bow down. Let it crush you.
Private Room is out 9/7 via Pure Noise. Pre-order the damn thing, for fuck’s sake. Also, Counterparts are doing a headlining tour in support of the EP, and if you do not attend, you will regret it. Here are the dates:
09/20 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
09/21 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
09/22 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
09/25 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater
09/26 – Detroit, MY @ The Shelter
09/27 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
09/28 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
09/29 – St Louis, MO @ Fubar
09/30 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theater
10/02 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
10/03 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
10/05 – San Diego, CA @ SOMA
10/06 – Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse
10/07 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
10/09 – Tempe, AZ @ Club Red
10/12 – Dallas, TX @ RBC
10/13 – San Antonio, TX @ Alamo City Music Hall
10/14 – Houston, TX @ Houston Underground
10/15 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
10/17 – Orlando, FL @ Sound Bar
10/18 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
10/19 – Greensboro, NC @ Blind Tiger
10/20 – Richmond, VA @ Canal Club
10/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Foundry
You still here? Cool! Here’s that Nyjah trick I was tellin’ ya about. This is steez:
STILL here? Dude, I mean, party’s kinda over. OK, OK, since you stuck with this all the way to the bottom of the page … here’s ‘Til Death: