Monday, March 27, 2006
All At Once
Young People
Too Pure*** of *****

In 2003, Young People started to get attention (though a small amount) for their 2nd album War Prayers. Mainly, it was for singer Katie Eastburn's breathy vocals coupled with the band's unique avant-country. The voice is somewhat unmistakable and the music was hypnotic and borderline no-wave. Heck, they're a weird band. Especially considering they initially formed to be a country band. To go from that to freeform art-rock takes a special kind of inspiration.

Since then, Young People have lost their guitarist Jeff Rosenburg due to, well uh, him quitting. When a band loses a founding member it presents a band with a tough decision to make: do they get another member to replace the former member, to learn all his parts, or do they break up the band and start new ones? However, for Young People it was apparently not a very tough decision. They have returned with All At Once and, upon first listen, it would appear that not a lot has changed. That's definitely not a bad thing, but it also serves as a slight fault.

As I mentioned before, the band's strongest characteristics is its vocalist. Eastburn's voice is beautiful and quite haunting and it serves as an interesting dynamic to the band's music, which, on this album, is much darker than before. There is certainly less carefree weirdness like what was heard on "Ne'er Do Well" from War Prayers. Instead there are songs that have even darker titles like "Your Grave," "Heads Will Role," and "Dark Rainbow;" the latter may remind one of Sonic Youth's early track "I Dreamed A Dream."

On many songs there is a dark and foreboding bass line with hypnotic and almost tribal percussion. There’s also some experimentation with piano and hand-claps which, somehow, only make the tracks more mysterious, but they're a mysterious band so I would expect no less. One of the best tracks is "On The Farm" which opens with a distortion wall-of-sound and a mantra from Eastman. From there the song gets quieter with sparse guitar and drums and Eastman doing her regular vocal thing. It's a very spooky track, but, in its experimentation and length, it’s also quite brilliant.

The only real problem with the album is that some of the tracks are just unimpressive. There isn't much trace of any kind of alt-country, but that's not really the fault. Progression is good. However, instead of pushing anything, the songs just kind of float around in the same place. Despite that though, All At Once is a solid art-rock, art-folk, whatever-you-wanna-call-it effort. Plus, enough experimentation is there to show that the band kind of knows what they're doing. Eastman's vocals remain the centerpiece, though. Keep an eye on these guys. They might be on to something.

[web] Young People
[myspace] Ilikeyoungpeople

Michael Long
Contributing Writer


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