Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reviews:: Yukon Blonde self-titled

I'm currently reading Chuck Klosterman's latest collection of essays, Eating the Dinosaur. So far, the most interesting is his analysis of svelte NBA post man and one half of the original twin towers, Ralph Sampson. His basic premise is that despite his relative success, Sampson was a bust simply because he had so much talent that anything less than super stardom should be viewed as failure.

While I disagree with that notion - and certainly will never let anyone talk smack about Ralph's awesome mini fro / moustache combo or his killer high top Pumas - the two points that resonated with me were 1) the idea that Ralph made it look to easy you naturally assumed he didn't want to be great and refused to make the required effort to take it to the next level and 2) that because he wanted to be a 7'4" PG, he was trapped in a body that prevented him from being the player he wanted.

Klosterman's argument focused on how Ralph never won a big game and despite making the NBA All-Star team and several moments of success he never delivered on his potential. Because he was so talented and made things seem effortless, we assumed it came easy to him and he was above us and that any failures were his own fault. When it comes to Vancouver rockers, Yukon Blonde, I feel a lot of the same - and in their case unfounded - criticism may occur. Jeff, Brandon, Adam and Graham bang out shimmering melodies so consistently that you can't help but think it comes easy to them.

The Kelowna quartet - now based in Van city - is a name few music fans have heard, and their infectious 60's pop will constantly compared to timeless acts like Fleetwood Mac and CSNY. Unfortunately, with the rise of bands like Midlake and Fleet Foxes, Yukon Blonde is probably going to suffer from the "another band revisiting 60's sunshine and multi-layered harmonies" dismissal, simply lumped in with the bands trying to take the easy way to mediocre success. In reality, the band works their ass off as they drive back and forth across the country, fine tuning their craft. A name change probably (they used to be known as Alphababy) doesn't help establishing credibility to their back story, but for anyone thinking success and the purity of their sound came easily, you are sadly mistaken.

On the ear candy that is Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore, they reinforce their working ethic as they repeat, "I would do anything you would do" but in reality this band is making the effort that countless bands balk at. Leaving the comforts of your own scene. Getting back in the band to play a show for the headline band and sound techs and no one else. Yukon Blonde has done this, and if need be, will continue along the same hard path.

But when it comes to tying in this odd (and probably ill fated) comparison of Yukon Blonde to Ralph, the most glaring similarity is that the band can't help who they are. Does the fact that countless shitty bands try to add harmonies now that Fleet Foxes exploded onto the scene make their efforts any less satisfying? It shouldn't, because these guys have perfected their sound and despite the touch points people will gravitate towards, it's more unique and experimental than a casual listen may reveal.

The synths and harmonies that jump start the LP trigger countless memories of a time where music mattered to people - to make it easier, lets just all remember the moment where Zooey Deschanel hooks her nerdy little bro with a candle and a copy of Tommy - but band is determined to prove that they are more than the sum of their influences. Sure, if I had to I could probably find a song similar to Blood Cops or Trivial Fires in my parent's record collection but I'm more than ok with that. For some reason people embrace bands borrowing from the Fab Four or Neil, but other sounds get dismissed out of hand as the overused flavor of the month.

Honestly, if you cant get into this record you are simply trying too hard. The hat trick of hooks that is Trivial Fires, Brides Song and Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore can stack up against any fourteen minutes of Canadian music you will hear this year, but the unexpected highs are just as important to the success of the band. The surging power of the anthemic Loyal Man moves you from the breezy, sun filled days you expect and makes you think anything is possible. When it comes to Yukon Blonde, I'm starting to think that it just might be.

MP3:: Yukon Blonde - Wind Blows

Labels: , , , , , ,

Posted at 7:21 AM by ack :: 0 comments

add to facebook add to Digg this Googlize this post add to Yahoo