Fat Dead Elvis
Fat Dead Elvis is available at:
9th April, 2016
The E.P., Wax, is available at:
1St July, 2016
Fat Dead Elvis
IT is hardly an exaggeration saying there is a lot of transition, anger and…
progression occurring. With England being dumped out of Euro 2016– unceremonious embarrassment and a true lack of heart- our nation is detaching away from the European union- our little island is drifting away. Maybe hyperbole: there is a lot of change happening; who knows how it will work out. Regardless: there seems to be a lot of disappointment and upset in the country. Setting aside- the heated and raging- debates and recriminations: distractions and music is needed. I have posed this in previous reviews- how balming and healing music can be- not just on a worldwide level: it can ease and transcend personal issues. For me- not to get in an elongated story of my current predicament- I am undergoing changes and uncertainties: in my career and who I am; where I live and the place I am in. It is quite intense and stressful: hopefully, I can break out (the malaise and anxiety) and make some real steps- get where I want to me. Against the backdrop of sadness and loneliness: it is music I turn to fulfil me and provide something nourishing. We often underestimate how powerful and meaningful music is to people. I have noted how tense things are in the U.K.: a time where we are all a little worried; unsure how things are going to work out. The mud-filled sermons from Glastonbury have provided much-needed fun and togetherness- people coming together in worship of stunning music and festivities.
Just when I have reached a plateau- seeking a hard-hitting and gritty band- one comes along. I love discovering acts of all varieties and fancies: whether Pop, Indie or whatever. Lately, there has been a surfeit of genuinely ramshackle and youthful acts- those that evoke something primal, ill-disciplined yet professional. Certain genres- Electro.-Pop for one- are rising: more artists playing music of this kind. I am always baffled why there are so few great Pink bands around. If you consider the state of the nation- how disaffected and let down the young feel- Punk seems like the natural leader in music: the mouthpiece that truly expresses the mixed emotions and feelings of the disenfranchised. Punk is a genre that (some would say) reached its zenith in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Modern-day examples- not all, but many- are too clinical and safe- reluctant to completely let loose. Those glory-day acts like Sex Pistols and The Ramones showed how it was done. The sharp, short (The Ramones’ songs often did not exceed 2 minutes) were the perfect catharsis for their generation: moments that got into the head and said what they need to. No needless riffs and repetition: tight, taut songs that blazed with originality, gusto, and rebellion. Sex Pistols- always been more a Ramones boy- snarled and spat with the best of them. Whether rebelling against the monarchy and her majesty- on their masterwork, Never Mind the Bollocks– the band spoke for the youth of Britain: those who felt they did not have a voice; were being ignored and overlooked. Bands that take the spirit of Punk and evolve the form- whether employing Metal and Hip-Hop elements or less-intense Rock shades- the spirit of Punk has never died- it has just been mixed with coke and lemonade; a bit weaker than it should be. Now is the time to herald bands that provide release and representation: get the voices ringing and the crowds chanting. My featured act is not overly-political-more The Ramones than Sex Pistols, for instance- but provide vivid humour, off-kilter songs; kinetic performances that have seen them enthrall audiences in their native Birmingham. Before I carry on- about Punk; raise a couple of other points- it is worth meeting Youth Man:
Kaila Whyte – Guitar + vocals
Miles Cocker – Bass + vocals
Marcus Perks – Drums
“Formed in January 2012 and bored of seeing the same predictable shit bands at bars, front woman Kaila Whyte and drummer Marcus Perks decided to start jamming together – later joined by bass player Miles Cocker, they would soon to transform into one of the most raw and exciting new punk bands in the UK.
This is what Youth Man are all about: unbridled, riot-grrl-tinged passion and the high velocity punk energy of legendary Welsh trio Mclusky mixed with an artistic edge that leans towards The Dead Kennedys’ trippier moments – throwing caution to the wind, saying “fuck it”, and smashing your guitar into a thousand sweat-soaked pieces. With appearances alongside Sleaford Mods, Together Pangea, Them Wolves, Bovine, Shapes, PINS, Fair Ohs, Sauna Youth and Her Parents, they’re quickly building a rabid following.
Self-proclaiming themselves as the loudest live band in the UK, the trio once supported The Bots and played so loud that they fused all the electricity in the entire venue – there’s no doubt that this caustic and visceral punk trio are out to defy convention, perception and expectation. With songs about tyranny, the hypocrisy of the West, isolation, the human experience and the largest organ in the human body, their dedication to presenting an honest and undiluted version of their music has led to them charming critics and audiences alike. Always putting substance before style, their chaotic live shows are quickly gaining a reputation for creating absolute pandemonium.
“Hot on the heels of a coveted UK/EU support tour with LA soul-punx Letlive: fast-rising Birmingham noise-punk trio YOUTH MAN are pleased to announce a run of headline UK tour dates for July 2016.
The tour includes a London date on 9th July at The Roundhouse, where the band headline the Roundhouse Punk Weekender celebrating the 40th anniversary of the punk movement, appearing alongside False Heads, Birdsong, Molasses, The Antiseptics, BullyBones, Mystified, Drones and Screech Bats as they go head to head on the Dr. Martens Stage in the venue’s Main Space. In addition to the music, there will also be a punk record fair, ‘zine fair, food stalls and more.
Commenting on the news, the band say: “We cannot bloody wait to get this record out and we’re even more excited to get back on the road, back in your faces, playing some new jams at you whilst you gawp in awe and disbelief. The new records and shirts look sweet as hell too so come and hang at the merch table with us afterwards and say hi and buy our shit so we can eat.”
The threesome recently revealed that their new EP ‘Wax’ will be released on 1st July 2016 on VENN Records, the independent label owned by visceral punks Gallows and home to releases from Heck, Marmozets, Milk Teeth, Moose Blood and more.
Fans can get a taster of the new EP – which was recorded completely live in one session – on frenetic and caustic new track ‘Fat Dead Elvis’. It’s a typically oppressive and raw cut from the band, dripping in overdriven scuzzy guitars and trashy cymbals that highlight their off-kilter approach to punk”.
It is incumbent on us all to celebrate artists that go beyond what is expected: are not your run-of-the-mill types; those who stand against predictability and really touch their audience. The boys (and girl) of Youth Man always connect with their audience. When they perform a gig: they hang around by the merchandise table; say ‘hi’ to their fans and encourage conversation. Maybe a drink or two will be shared: they do not hide in the dressing room and close themselves off. There are artists who have that common touch: there need to be more; those who want to bond with the audience. In a social media/Internet age; a lot of communication and connect happens through gigabytes and no drunken late nights; status updates rather than being mates- a more detached and digitised approach to humanity. It is understandable, I guess: it can be grueling- keeping the energy up after a gig- but the gig-attending, fee-paying punters respect that dedication. The trio gets involved with merchandise and their images- they are very proud of their new T-shirts- and are a good, old-fashioned group. Although they have to release music online: you would imagine them happier in vinyl stores hanging with music fans; before they trudge to a local bar to rock faces and bring sweat and blood to the walls- just like their heroes of the past. The antidote of the mainstream musicians: these chaps are all-too-happy to hang and bond with their audience (to an extent, obviously!). It is refreshing hearing any artists take that approach: it makes you want to check the music out; involve yourself with all corners (of that act). Their pragmatic and brotherly approach to music stands them in fine stead: a three-piece that has gained an incredible reputation; their fan-base continues to swell; so many wonderful reviews have come their way- let’s hope this one does them justice!
Before moving on- seeing how the guys have changed musically; what their current sounds are like- it is worth looking into Birmingham (where the band is based) and the music scene there. I get into that mindset- a lot of others will- when it comes to British musicians: you always focus on the ‘major’ cities like Liverpool, London; Edinburgh and Manchester- few of us cast our attentions elsewhere. The truth is the U.K. has phenomenal musicians in every county and corner: Birmingham has always been a solarium for music of all colours and diversions. At the moment, there are some stunning local acts emerging: keen to break into the mainstream and put their stamp on the current scene. Looking back; everyone from Black Sabbath, E.L.O. and Ocean Colour Scene have put Birmingham (and the Black Country) on the map. Duran Duran, Judas Priest and Swim Deep; The Twang and The Streets (Mike Skinner is a Birmingham boy with a London-commercial affectation) – such a wonderful list of influential musicians. Invariably, their best emigrate- Skinner and others to London; Ocean Colour Scene around the country; they still return home to gig- but always recognize their roots.
That Birmingham pride is strong and unerring: the city is growing in terms of opportunities and exposure. A lot of towns and cities do not provide chances and platforms for musicians: thus, they feel the need go to London (or other large cities). Birmingham is a cosmopolitan, evolving city that is keen to keep its musicians local and fulfilled. Large/arena venues like the Barclaycard’ and Genting Arena house your large/well-recognised acts- Town Hall and 02 Academy, too. The Institute (played host to Death from Above 1979) and Hare & Hounds (Klaxons have performed here) are two of the city’s most exciting, well-received and incredible venues. The Dark Horse (its Blues and Jazz vibe) attracts plenty of faces; Sunflower Longue (Royal Blood and Peace have rocked the joint) is a must-visit venue. The Jam House (Ocean Colour Scene and others have been seen) and The Actress and the Bishop (Mark Morriss is among the acts to have passed through) can be added to the list- a wealth of amazing places for musicians established and upcoming. Records like Wax– the trio’s latest E.P. – will not only see them in hot demand around Birmingham: they could easily thrill the masses across the U.K. and internationally; over the U.S. too.
Wax has been garnering some rather excitable whispers: those who have been sent advance copy (sworn not to reveal its contents) can attribute to the fact: the trio are at their peak right now. Changing their creative dichotomy- favouring a more live-sounding, less polished sound- they are not only stripping their music down- they’re bringing their Punk-cum-Post-Hardcore music back to the ‘70s. Still the sound of 2016- it is a very modern and relevant E.P. – it perhaps their most engaging, open and impressive release so far. Considering their current E.P.; it is worth looking back at their recent work: Hill of Knives was released last year. Opener SKIN is fast-rushing and rampant: a short burst of Punk fury that boasts some cryptic lyrics (“Keep the inside inside/Keep the outside out of me”). The vocal performance is filled with typical Youth Man intensity: a pugnacious and blazing delivery that punches the words into the brain. The insatiable drive and bellicose statement can be found on Always the Same. Feedback and fuzz introduce the song. More casual and slow-building- then SKIN at least- there’s a swagger and confidence to the vocal delivery. The chorus coda is snarled and growled: just what it refers to- things always being the same- is hard to say. Terrific, tight performances from the trio- among their most electric and exhilarating deliveries- shows them at full chat. Dead Kennedys and Bad Brain elements come through: the percussion is hollow, primal and intense; the guitar work is frantic and blistering. Dead Weight begins with intriguing build-up. Ghostly stroking and flickering lights; the beat emerges and gallops off; searching, probing and meaningful. Propped by chugging, locomotive riffs: it is a heavy, sexy and hard song. Slapping percussion and threadbare beating: providing a perfect canvas for a guttural and determined vocal beat-down. With production from Issac Benjamin Cartwright, Mark Gittins (and the band): it is an incredible, action-packed record.
Before Wax– to satisfy appetites for the craving- Pigs arrived with similar hunger and demand. The August-released song (2015) saw our heroine feel the cravings- those she cannot satisfy. Wicked thoughts “running through my swine mind” get you thinking: a sexual desire or something vengeful? Future demands- “And I’m hungry/Will you feed me?”- put your thoughts towards the libidinous and sensual- our lead looking for satisfaction and sweat. Giving the oblique nature of the words- the pig motif and its vivid openness- one could look towards capitalism and the government- a modern-day update of Animal Farm. Humans are so full of lust and gluttony- a truth that is revealed later- and this can get the better of us. Always filling our bellies- not knowing the consequences; greedy to the last- our brains do not kick in. More atmospheric and layered than previous tracks- especially with regards the vocals- Pigs is a fascinating and curious song- one where you are helpless to interpret; your mind will swirl with ideas and interpretations. Issac Benjamin Cartwright laid down the recording: the band return to the Bad Weather days- that five-track E.P. was released a couple of years back- and unleash a mini-masterpiece.
It has been great getting inside Wax– a more in-depth assessment near the end of the review- and hearing a band burning the candle at both ends (see how many wax-related puns I can get in there). You can imagine the guys in the studio at night: laying it down on tape and getting lost in the moment. The rulebook has well and truly been tossed to the wolves: this is music that has no curfew or permissions; kebab-stained and unruly- dare you implore it to calm down and have an early night. In so much it will not sober-up and stop dancing on the tables: it is not as cloying and undisciplined as the analogy would suggest. Youth Man is a savvy and clever band that understand the vitality of keeping the music relatable and grounded- not veering it off at oblique tangents; ensuring it is not reserved for a narrow clique. After the trio has finished promoting Wax– and Fat Dead Elvis’s majesty has been fully cemented- it is onto the rest of the year. They have touring and commitments but that will spike their creativity and writing bubble. New towns will provide fresh impetus: where will that take the Birmingham band? They seem at the stage where an L.P. is a very real proposition. Maybe a 10-11-track cut that combines existing material with new offering- who could rule out that eventuality? I am not sure what they do have in mind: many people will be keen to find out; following the three-piece with anticipation and expectation. Wax is a wonderful E.P. that mix slow-burning (at it again!) and intense: fiery and rambunctious at first; deep and nuanced the more you play the songs. If a future cut- E.P. or album- retains that live-sounding component; that will be interesting to see. The ball is very much in their court: the music world is there for the taking!
Fat Dead Elvis, on title alone, is enough to get the curious invested. In an E.P. of callisthenic power and staggering band performances: the guys reach their peak here. A woozy, lo-fi opening is a red herring that puts you in a relaxed mood. Youth Man is a group who upcycle and repurpose Punk: take its foundations and make it more modern, urgent and burning. Given what we know of them- and how previous songs have sounded- Fat Dead Elvis was never likely to remain restrained too long. Even after the first few notes: the listener realizes something is lurking. The song’s video- an essential accompaniment and companion- sees an Elvis impersonator on a bar stool. Solemn and hang-dog: he nurses a beer and seems entrenched in thought. Perhaps hoping for a large crowd- the video is shot at a bar- he is a dejected figure maybe the warm-up act for Youth Man. The star attraction blows the Memphis god’s music clean out the water. Loud and rude (rather than Blue Suede Shoes); Kaila Whyte approaches the microphone and is in the mood for physicality. This is an encore: The Devil is in the belly; our girl is pumped, tormented and angry. It is interesting deciphering the band’s words; what they refer to. You always get vivid images and something memorable- they will have different meanings for different people. Reports from media and fans- who have heard this track performed live- attest to its quality and savageness. The E.P. version is as close to a live version as you will get. You can almost feel the spit fly from the microphone; the bass and guitar in either ear; the percussion banging in the head. Fat Dead Elvis is a song that implores your body, soul and heart to unify: create detente and work together in an orgy of movement, submission and recklessness. Not a song reserved for Punk purists: the gale-force hurricane and cyclone will move everyone (very literally).
In the early phases; the guitar and bass create a sense of melody and twiddle- almost cute and infantile to the touch. Miles Cocker and Marcus Perks provide drum-and-bass tease; it continues to grow and rise to avalanche levels- one you are happy to get caught up in and submit to. Roofs are caving in- another one it seems- and you wonder whether it has a direct or oblique link. Given the song’s title- and its hero’s rotund, over-fed frame- there might be a King-sized hole in the roof- having plummeted to his demise. On another tangent: (the words) can ascribe something freeing and unshackled; a general heat and electricity. Whyte’s voice is at its dependable best: a blend of indecipherable emotion and full-bodied passion. Everything she sings has emotion and passion to it- never feeling histrionic or too shouty.
Some of the lyrics- like previous Youth Man tracks- do get lost in the composition; the decipherability does slip at some points. Hearing the song’s intense and desperate delivery: it is hardly a surprise to find this. If there is a party going down- or Elvis is losing his crown- there is a Devil in the garden. Images of burning and satanic demonic bring new candour, imagination and possibility into Fat Dead Elvis. Crooked spines and lyrical madness: a fire-cracking composition and hellacious bone-down. The sparring of sexuality, youthful attack, and Punk vitriol comes together vibrantly: there is a nod to U.S. Punk masters and the likes of Bad Brains. Endlessly frenetic and desperate: a song that propels the body and sends 10,000 volts straight into the stomach. Whyte’s vocal sustains an animalistic prowl throughout; never slipping or cracking under backing from her band. Unwilling to edit and edify her words- as not to offend- few people could stop her: a singer with very few equals and competitors. A vivid young band that lays everything on the line: it is great to hear in 2016. I fear too many bands are timid or reluctant to unleash a certain fury. Many are concerned with radio-play and mainstream success- Fat Dead Elvis might make it to Daniel P. Carter; Capital F.M. might go puce- but that is a shame. Youth Man have gained a reputation on being honest, real and unpretentious: songs that blend Punk and Hardcore; designed for those who like their music with teeth and guts.
Alongside evocations of Fat Dead Elvis– you cannot get certain scenarios from your head- there are words of torment, torture, and violence. The strings stand out and go up front: an aural representation of the emotions and tension that is building up. In the video; there are close-ups of the band; cut-aways and quick shots- the song rushes like a wave and draws you under; you are intoxicated and spellbound by the force and determination of the song. Bringing the Youth Man live experience to the masses: an unbarred and unshackled beast that is baying for blood. Whether you can get to grips with the lyrics- in terms of meaning, clarity and story- that is down to the individual. Fat Dead Elvis is an acid-flash song that is rebellious and no-holds-barred. If the video’s protagonist seems a shadow of his former self; the song shows no sympathy or comfort- constantly stabbing, thrusting and viper-like. Whyte is in rude form (language-wise and quality) and is a woman on a mission. Together with Cocker’s huge bass and imperious presence; Perks’ bolder percussion: the trio is an unstoppable army of song. Final moments notch Fat Dead Elvis to explosive realms. Supernatural anger and emotion drive a dark mood: agonised and pummeling vocals- chanting “death” with a bond of glee and anger- translates into an all-out thrash across the line.
Youth Man proves how adaptable and amenable they are. Forsaking comforts of time, studio equipment, and various takes- they are notable because of their quick recording turnaround- but recording songs like Fat Dead Elvis so speedily- in a single take; like a liver performance in the studio- you hear the song at its elemental best. Free from bells, whistles; gloss and studio redactions: the purest version of the track is heard. Because of this, the band’s performance is scintillating. Whereas Fat Dead Elvis’s video actor- at the end of the film- takes off his wig; looks to the band before declaring “That was shit”: a jealous tantrum from someone upstaged and blown away. The King is Dead: Long Live Youth Man. Whyte, Cocker, and Perks have been performing together for years: you’d imagine current tracks would be pretty routine, rehearsed and familiar. Instead, Fat Dead Elvis sound like a brand-new band jamming in the garage: filled with hope, ambition and youthful rage. Imbuing those components and dynamics: Youth Man provide authority, experience and intuition; they know exactly how to craft an instant classic.
Perhaps Fat Dead Elvis will take a while to convert those unfamiliar with Punk/Neo-Punk- with harder, faster deliveries- but Youth Man is an everyman band that is sure to bring everyone to their side. In a recent interview with B.B.C. 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews; Neil Young talked about modern music. He suggested modern music is defined by limitation, reduction, and false economy. Whether down to financial burdens or quick turnaround- bands keen to get their sounds laid as soon as- we only really hear 5% of a song- in terms of its full potential, sound, and layers. It is an extraordinary claim that might hold some truth: quite a sobering fact if you think about it. If some acts/bands are missing 95%- or the production cuts that from their music- groups like Youth Man take give 100% all the time. Dynamic, in-the-moment recordings like Fat Dead Elvis show what music should be: about losing yourself and embracing its urgency. Perhaps it is a risky stratagem- you have limitations and need to be a phenomenal live band- but Youth Man are going to inspire many to follow their steps. Wax’s highlight comes in the form of the vivid, bracing and picturesque, Fat Dead Elvis– a song that proves they are one of Punk’s most incredible acts.
Its cover is the stuff of (children’s) nightmares: a demonic, wide-smiled clown/jester/zombie head with candles protruding from the top- an image that is part-Stephen King, part-killer-on-the-loose. These ideas and images are aurally represented in opener Sweet Apples. Percussion defined and hard- more so than on previous records- and the excitement level is off the charts. Whyte’s vocal performance is typically explosive and nuclear: as though you are stood in front of her hearing this live. The band’s decision to create a live-sounding E.P. pays off from the very start. Ramped and ready for the challenge: Youth Man launch into the song with a captivating drive and determination. Some of the lyrics do get buried under the wall of strings, percussion, and vocals. The song’s title is chanted and erupted: the vocal cracks and screams; Cocker adds to the vocal throng- anger, venom and barbed-wire in every note. Towards the song’s end; the pure weight of emotion takes its toll: Sweet Apples implodes in the hectic drama and pure force: the perfect way to open the E.P. Pigs has already been unleashed to the world but sounded extra-squealing and demented. Un-distilled, pure Punk spirits whips the track up. Whyte’s sturdy, planet-hopping vocal power adds a grittiness and edgier to proceedings- making the song sound dirty, attacking and enrapturing. Queens of the Stone Age-like Desert Rock scuzziness creates twirling, catchy mantra- a shot of colour inside the melodrama and mayhem. Mid-point guitars and bass produce tonal balance and leadership- the bass is particularly sturdy and standout here. Tight, controlled yet drunken: the song is one of the most frightening and hard performance so far. That satisfaction-desire and hunger: it keeps showing its teeth and baying for blood. Sexual sweating and a raw edge: chunky riffs and Blues-tinged undertones give the song contours, shades, and range.
Look: Wait is a direct missile that does not allow reflection, space or demure- the band are keen to keep the punches coming and the energy at its peak. If this were a live set: crowds would probably have dehydrated to death; such is the unfettered and unrelenting attack. Here, we have a Ramones-style lesson in economy and concision- a track that does its business in just 70 seconds. So many modern bands struggle to keep songs focused and tight- they often wander for minutes and are quite self-indulgent. Ball-beating, voice-shredding vocals spars with psychotic, to-the-gut instrumentals: ensuring Wax goes into war with guns blazing and voices screaming. Each band member competes for Loudest and Most Bad-Ass Performer: terrific to hear a group put so much blood and sweat into a performance. One of Wax’s ragged and genuine songs- in the sense, it could have been clipped from a live performance. The fact Look: Wait is brief and abstemious means Youth Man throw Hell to the wind: the percussion is allowed spotlight; the multi-limbed flurry gives proceedings accelerated heartbeat; against feedback and electric tirade- it is a physical, tangible song. Everyone gets involved and feels every note: it sticks its head through the speaker and wails in the face; a sonic slap that the listener is happy to receive.
Painted Blue is hardly an acoustic swansong. That said, there is a calm and crepuscular tease in the opening seconds. Almost romantic to start- the strings have a lustrous, tender-kiss gentility to them- a gradual incline unfolds. Lyrics of “artful deception” and laid back figures: you piece together your own jigsaw; what the words pertain to. Children are poisoned and knowledge “is broken”- “Turn your radio off” is the command from our heroine. Nervy, anxious and paranoid: whether a political statement or proclamation; you are powerless to resist its power and pull. The band unites in vocals to enforce the message and sense of meaning: the animal-like guitars bark, growl, and bite; ‘90s Grunge and Experimental-Rock vibes hang together. Fitting on a final fling: Painted Blue is Youth Man’s most epic and grand statement of their career; a song that has stadium-sized riffs; immense vocals and a terrific band performance. Groove, sassiness, and stripped-back savage mix into one awe-inspiring vision: a long track- from a short-burst Punk band- that sustains interest and keeps the listener hooked. Acolytes be calmed: there is ample mess, beer-soaked chaos, and ill-discipline to be discovered. A parabond of professional and juvenile makes it a stunning creation: lyrics asking whether the “devil painted blue can go fuck himself” is one to ponder, for sure.
Wax is as hot, burning and binding as the title suggests: a louche, swaggering bloodhound that shows its teeth and menace- there is plenty of heart, intelligence, and professionalism in there. Youth Man are not a band that rock up and hope energy compensates for a lack of nuance. The songs are loose and attacking but always detailed, rehearsed and layered- tunes that impact right away but stand up to endless battering. After returning from a U.K. /E.U. tour with Letlive: they are going to be hitting the tarmac in July; headlining the Roundhouse Punk Weekender in London. Punk has been in effect for 40 years- that is what they are celebrating in London- and no better time for one of the nation’s finest new Punk bands to show their fight. Their new sounds- compared with their early work- is rawer and compelling, perhaps. Recorded over the night in a single-take: that urgency and excitement do not compromise quality and sound. Perhaps darker and angrier than their older stuff: it is also their most accomplished and all-encompassing. Never limiting their music to one theme/person: a Bad Brains/Dead Kennedys-evoking party that gives you a wonderful sense of abandon and command- one of the tightest groups I have heard in a long time. Heading on the road- and when they hit London- they’ll appear alongside False Heads, Molasses and BullyBones (and others) in a phenomenal night- something you should all get down to and see- they will be a ‘zine, Punk stall and entertainments in addition to the music.
The band is chopping at the bit: eager to get in faces and premier their new jams; introduce their new merchandise. An honest and real group- they need to see T-shirts etc. so they can eat and perform- Wax is an E.P. likely to seduce the Punk loyal; cross genres and drag in new support. The infectious personalities (of the group) and incredible passion is powerful enough to shake the birds from trees- music that gets down to business and shakes the bones. Released by VENN Records– owned by Gallows; housing bands like Milk Teeth and Moose Blood- it will be one of 2016’s most-essential and exciting E.P.s. Fat Dead Elvis is a wonderful taste- that leaves impressions in the mouth and subconscious for a long time- that shows how far they have come. Completely confident and engaging: their new approach to recording has not changed the dynamic and sound. Keeping their core foundations solid- the bond and performance excellence; the subject matter and topics- they are more unpolished and vehement; bringing their live experience into a studio-recorded release. Involved and ensconced; entangled and at-one with the audience- Wax is a gripping and fearless statement.
Oppressive, dirty and scuzzy; trash-laden and bonkers: welcome to the beautiful world of Youth Man! The trio will release the E.P. digitally- link is at the top of this review- but there’s a limited edition 300 pressing 12” (on frosted clear wax) featuring Marcus Perks’ artwork- a sculpture of candles, clay, dentures and googly eyes. That will be a collector’s item if ever there was one! Unless you’re a Punk dilettante; you can never be truly modern and detached. The genre is defined by its physicality and roots: most modern Punk bands source influences from the legends of old. As they pounded the recording studio; the band took hundreds of Polaroid photos: showing us the way they work and the process involved (available with the vinyl copy of the E.P.). It is rewarding finding a group that put that much attention and themselves into the music. Some mainstream acts put out great vinyl packages and releases- Radiohead’s last couple of albums have included treats and extras- but it is a rarity. Vinyl is an expensive thing- you can pay up to £20 for a newly-released album- and that is quite steep. By offering a few little additional gifts- that supplement the music and give a window into the artists’ personality- it makes it more accessible and reasonable. Few new acts can really afford to do that: many more do not feel they need to put that effort in. It is testament to Youth Man’s love of their music- and the people buying it- that puts them over the top.
Of course, it is easy to perceive an idea of an act from their music: the litmus test is getting close and witnessing them in the live milieu. Some acts have very professional and ‘predictable’ sets- pleasing the fans and providing a nice and nourishing evening- whereas Youth Man might leave you with fewer teeth- but a much bigger smile. Recalling the ‘70s Punk gods: a turbo-charged, balls-by-the-handful alternative that are festival leaders of the future. Not just suited to the more intimate, enclosed venues- the charming small-capacity where that intensity and passion is at its most concentrated- they could translate to Glastonbury/Reading-sized stages- that magic and mayhem would easily waft its way across the sludgy fields and into the food courts. On July 7th, the guys play John Peel Centre in Stowmarket; Music Hall (Ramsgate) then: from there, they play Roundhouse in London (9th) and take in Milton Keyes, Glasgow, and Newcastle- Leeds is their penultimate gig before a homecoming at Sunflower Lounge on the 16th. Recent tours alongside- German punks- Adam Angst and KMPFSPRT; Brighton cohorts Tigercub and Cardiff heck-raisers Astroid Boys- they have gained valuable experience, exposure, and momentum. Not tired by the demands of the road- they also played Montreux Jazz Festival, Reading and Leeds and Wickerman– there is no end in sight. The guys love performing and bring their tunes to the fans: just what you want from a band. I am in a rather humble position: hardly the meatiest reviewer that has ever taken their music on. Infectious personalities, charm, and incredible work ethic have seen Rolling Stone, Alternative Press and N.M.E. pay tribute: B.B.C. Radio 1, Clash Magazine and Artrocker are in the mix; Drowned in Sound and Rock Sound are definite fans- quite an eye-watering list of patrons.
I have mentioned- as I do with all great artists that come my way- how they could take their music internationally. Youth Man are fairly established- having international reputation and close to mainstream breakthrough- and that big break cannot be too far away. New bands like Loose Meat, Yuk and Royal Blood (not that new; still…) are showing how popular and in-demand granite-hard music is- those insatiable, head-thrashing jams that get the listener involved, intoxicated and captivated. Wax is the sound of Youth Man highlighting the Venn diagram intersect: that connection between live performance and studio sound; the songs are twilight through and through. The songs were written at night and performed then: a quick turnaround from a group in inspired form. Channeling the unexpectedness and dangers of the night- the odd characters, drunkenness and mystic energy- that is funneled into a primal and bare-naked E.P.
Those reading this and balking- they sound like very primal and for-the-niche musicians- have no fear: the songs are not intended to scare and divide: they are intended for everyone. Yes, the songs are quite confrontational but never in an offensive and hostile way: they are there for the listener to become involved in; create an aural response. I know Youth Man’s touring calendar is pretty full for the next few weeks. After the dust has settled- do this trio ever take a day off? – you have to wonder about the wider world. In New York and L.A. alone (the trio) could find themselves held hostage- the American audiences woulddrink inn everything on offer. From Brooklyn’s edgy sidewalks (Mantoba’s and The Cobra Club are premier Punk clubs) and Manhattan’s (Clock Bar on 21 Essex St.) downtown rush; the head-spinning scenery of Los Angeles (The Smell and The Echo are Punk joints worth checking) and serenity (by comparison) of Pasadena (The Colorado Bar): this three-piece could plant their flag anywhere they please. If they want to unify Europe- someone needs to- the likes of Germany, Holland and France are possibilities; Sweden, Norway and Denmark- their love of Black Metal and heavier sounds- could be a possibility? Whatever they decide- and how their year pans out- you have no excuse to ignore Youth Man. Saddle up; get Fat Dead Elvis– and Wax, too- in the stereo: press ‘play’ and get ready…
TO have the senses blown wide open.
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