These are uncertain times for many of us, and I’m no different. Things have been a bit slow around these parts, and I certainly bear much of the blame. Dealing with shifting work schedules, increased personal commitments and moving across town has left me with little time to devote to my true love, OVRLD. But she’s been a supportive partner for Dan and me while we’ve been dealing with our summer entanglements, and now it’s time to get back to showing her some love.
I share this with you all, partially because I feel that personal context is important in music reviewing. As impartial as we pretend to be, there is no universal system by which to judge records (unlike, say, gymnastics performances). A musician usually can’t stick a landing and everyone knows immediately whether it was good or bad. These opinions are formed by individual taste, and often individual circumstances. I may hear an album at the wrong time and just have greatness escape me. You may hear it at exactly the same time and recognize its genius. So you should know that I’m tired, uncertain about my future, and desperate for some semblance of stability at the moment, because that most definitely affects how I read an album like Dub Egg from Austin’s The Young.
It kind of affects how I read the reviews of the record too. The Young’s second LP, but first for Matador Records, got fairly positive reviews, but I read them as lukewarm. It sounded like many of the reviewers were trying to convince themselves to like it when they didn’t. But maybe that’s just because that’s what I was doing. But I have to be honest: this record didn’t connect with me. Its antecedents and contemporaries are not things that resonate with me. As much as singer Hans Zimmerman may hate the term, there’s a lot of psych-rock in this album, and that is one element of the Austin music scene that doesn’t resonate with me as well. It’s got lo-fi elements to it that sometimes recall Guided By Voices, and as much as I can appreciate a band like GBV, it’s never connected with me on a gut level. And this album can be filed next to Kurt Vile’s recent output, which has similarly eluded me.The Young - 'Livin Free'
There are certainly good songs on the album, like opening track “Living Free.” It’s got a nice beat and shifts gracefully from smoother, drawn out verses to harder rocking choruses in a much subtler way than most of the quiet-LOUD-quiet bands. Most of the tracks, though, seem to be about constructing an atmosphere over writing a good hook or a compelling melody. The vocals are down in the mix and drenched in reverb. This is by no means a bad album – it’s well-produced and well-executed. I just can’t connect to it. Now, I recognize that some of you will read my descriptors and think, “I need to have this record,” and you should go buy it. If you like GBV, Kurt Vile, psych-rock, atmosphere and reverb, this album will not disappoint. For me, at this particular time in my life, The Young aren’t doing it for me.