DARIUS KOSKI: What Was Once Is By and Gone: CD

Even disregarding his side projects, I’m firmly of the opinion that Darius Koski, as guitarist for the Swingin’ Utters for the past twenty-five years, is probably one of punk’s greatest songwriters. No joke. Band is criminally underrated. I don’t want to swing around the lofty term “genius,” but his work is of lasting importance, and the guy, I say, THE GUY CAN PLAY. That said, I was excited to hear this solo record. It eschews traditional punk (or even rock) overtures, but the Swingin Utters have been doing that for a number of records now. This is a laid back—at times mesmerizing—album, if a pretty uneven one. Think traditional ballads, klezmer, folk, all done with Koski’s full instrumentation. The bummer is that he tacks all the slow songs—including a few drowsy instrumentals—into the middle of what is already a mid-tempo record, and boy, does it drag. But when Koski’s on, like in “Because He’s Beautiful” and “Black Sheep,” it’s a buoyant, confident, melancholy noise, and there’s little else like it. –Keith Rosson (Fat)