Mittwoch, 4. September 2013

EP review: The Wild Young Hearts - ‘Pretty Girls’. No shallow but complex and steady rock music

Cover of  'Pretty Girls'

With the narrowly defined and conclusive title the 4-piece LA based rock band The Wild Young Hearts, formerly known as Streetcar Rendezvous (when people struggled to pronounce and write their band name correctly the guys thought it would be best to make it more obvious and easy and TWYH was bornhas chosen for their second EP (‘Pretty Girls’), the listener might anticipate and connote light and shallow music, music one has heard before somewhere else, music that covers themes often dealt with: love, relationships, attraction, heartbreak. But if the audience is willing to look deeper, to grant the songs time to evolve, it soon finds that the themes might mainly be nothing new, the music approach and execution though is striking. In fact the staging and arrangement of songs on ‘Pretty Girls’ show both diversity and notability.

Rock 'N' Roll advocates: The Wild Young Hearts 

The Wild Youg Hearts, brought into being in the summer of 2012 by Robert Laffoon (vocals) and his roommate Justin David Norman Hagen (guitar), eventually complemented and advanced with the contribution of Garrett Warren (bass) and Michael Southcomb (drums), satisfys with a clever and spirited setup concept, a varied but still focused sound. One that is shaped by the band’s endeavor to create sincere and soulful Rock’N’Roll, to compose songs which thrill and inspire, which bear an authentic and unaltered, raw yet matured sound. A sound that kicks of with rhythmic and driven melodies, melodies which not only invite the listener to move but also to sing along.

There’s no intention of mine to spoil one’s very own listening experience, one’s musical journey whilst indulging in the dynamic and delightful songs of ‘Pretty Girls’, but let’s put it that way: it has been a successful endeavor.  The band has come up with an exciting and refreshing sound, interesting enough to stick to it, conformed enough to be seen as enthusiastic devotion to the great rock anthems The Wild Young Hearts aspires to equal.  

What We Know Is Wrong, the first track of the EP, doesn’t fit the theme of love centred compositions, of hopeful, failed or fated to fail relationship and love affair based storylines the other songs on ‘Pretty Girls’ depict, but considering the song wasn’t initially planned to be released as an EP single, there’s no surprise to it. Yet it’s not solely its topic that makes ‘What We Know Is Wrong’ stand out, it’s the entire conception and message of the song that makes it excel.

From the energetic setup which depends on driven guitar and constantly vibrant drum sound, both rising within the course of the track, to the rather reserved vocal performance which is expressive and resonant in sonority, the first song of ‘Pretty Girls’ convinces with  a thoughtout compositional concept. A concept which is even intensified when the rap part of RJ Wallace, who is with the San Diego hip hop group ‘Brother Nature’, sets in and adds an impetuous and trenchant note to the track. A concept that plays well along with the meaning of the song: as evocative as the melodies and as remarkable as the vocals are, so are the lyrics. They ask the listener to pay attention to social media control, to be aware that falsities are spread and infomation is hold back by those in charge. It’s not a restraint, it’s a reverberative and sonorous appeal to be more conscious and attentive in respect to one’s living conditions.

A light (did you spot the elated whistling?) and blithe composition follows, not lacking the defining elements of The Wild Young Hearts’ sound: eccentric vocals, orotund guitar, bass melodies and keen drum rhythms. Caroline expresses the wish to be be free of all too harsh and confining restrictions - may it by social media, may it be by governmental control - in a more subtle way than ‘What We Know Is Wrong’ does (‘we can finally be free’). The lyrical focus though is on a relationship based storyline: it tells of desire, attraction, of containment in action and freedom of thoughts.

Up next: a bluesy instrumental interlude, soulful and imbuing piano sound, contributed by Alain Tomszak, announces a thematic change. It’s still relationships the songs portray yet the last three compositions of the EP show the rather melancholic and dismal shades of love.

There Goes My Babyresounds and as it does, clangorous vocals speak of parting and methods of dealing with the loss of someone you love, whilst the dominant guitar and drum sound add a gloomy and depressing shade to the song, which is further stressed and emphasized by the overall forceful and brisk instrumental staging of the fourth track on the EP.  

It’s by the intense and impressive, staggering manner the instrumental arrangement is presented in, that the listener is led to the conclusion that the lover is left without any opportunity for action.

Streetcar Rendezvous - 'There Goes My Baby

    ... and the official music video for 'There 
Goes My Baby' by The Wild Young Hearts
new band name, new video ... enjoy (shameless self promotion, 
hip shades, notable and enthusiatic background dance action 
... and of course music!)

Typical garage rock elements - profound and orotund, rasping guitar and bass sound -  are combined with soulful lyrics on Skin and Bones, a song that plainly and imposingly shows the storytelling character of ‘Pretty Girls’, a song which itself is rather slow in both melody and pace. Yet a song that shows off with eccentric highlights due to its edgy vocals and gripping guitar riffs. The listener soon finds himself utterly involved in the story told and wants to explore the depth of the composition as much as the lover wants to explore his beloved one’s soul and emotions. Fascinating!

Rough and scratchy vocals, rhythmic drum and bass sound mingle and unfold the story of a heartbroken who lost all his drive and ambition due to his beloved one’s distance. It’s by far the most emotional song of the EP, conveying a sad undertone that finds echo in the lyrics of Sleep: ‘I’ve been wasting every night/singing the saddest songs’. A crowning musical finish is showcased as the sixth track makes aptly use of the tonal (salient and prevailing, resonant guitar, restrained but characteristic bass and enthusiastic drum sound) and vocal (edgy yet smooth timbre) components the other songs of ‘Pretty Girls’ feature too but distinguishes itself through a more personal and impulsive way of storytelling.  

People who know my taste in music well and who have read this blog attentively,  have noticed my affection for Southern California’s music scene (my favourite band Midnight Hour is based in the OC area) without any doubt, hence there’s no need to deny that this very affection might have influenced my first impression of the music The Wild Young Hearts composes. My thoughts and visions of the songs, that developed whilst listening to ‘Pretty Girls’ time after time though, have (slightly) modified and amplified my initial impression of the band, my opinion of their music has been intensified  and shaped the more I indulged into the melodies of the songs, the more I delved into their structures and lyrics (you see my approach to The Wild Young Heartsmusic has been the same as to every other band, whatever place the musicians are based). It turned out that my first impression of The Wild Young Hearts has been confirmed and moreover extended: the band’s sound is yet diverse and not fully refined but claims some defining elements already (a dominant and intense instrumental setup, eccentric and egdy vocals), it’s a spirited and candid one. It’s music that stirrs and moves, that evokes emotions many can easily relate to - grief due to loss and refusal, the joy and excitement of love and attraction, the need and ambition to make a change caused by curiosity and sharpness. It’s music that makes you want to listen to more (how’s about their first EP The Wild Young Hearts?), that makes you want to see what lies ahead of this ‘young and rather unexperienced’ (keep in mind, The Wild Young Hearts has been only around since the summer of 2012) but extremely promising band.

So, tell me now, are you willing to come along and see where the road takes The Wild Young Hearts? It’s the best if you start with listening to both of their EPs (they have grown in sound since their first release in January 2013). Give their songs some time to evolve, to grab you with its melodies and vocal resonance - and you will sooner or later find it’s a not fully engineered sound yet, but one that definitely gonna linger on your mind with its impressive and imbuing, above all with its harmonic and complex vocal and instrumental interaction.

Reach out to the band and let them know what you think of their music:

It’s about time to indulge in The Wild Young Heartssongs...

You haven’t made up your mind in respect to the band’s music yet? Check on house in the sands review of ‘Pretty Girls’ here:

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