Pazz & Jop 2011
39th Annual Village Voice Critics’ Poll
“Pazz & Jop is an annual poll of musical releases compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice. The poll is tabulated from the submitted year-end top ten lists of hundreds of music critics. Pazz & Jop was introduced by The Village Voice in 1974 as an album-only poll, but was expanded to include votes for singles in 1979.”
This is not the review I expected to write. It pains me to say it, but the Yuck show was kind of, well, meh. Now, I’ve spent the better part of this year talking up this band. Yuck’s self-titled debut is absolutely my favorite album of the year. I’ve rocked that album on the daily since about February. If you know me, and we like the same tunes, it’s likely that I burned you a copy of that album. In fact, I probably owe Yuck about $300 considering how many copies of that album that I’ve given out in the Midwest area. But I get excited about good bands. And when I think you might like it, too, I get really excited.
Sadly, the Yuck show was a disappointment. As much as I hoped that the live show would be as beautiful and life enriching as the album, there were some causes for concern. I’d seen some videos of live performances, and they seemed kind of lackluster. I’d sent friends in other cities to see the band, and they reported that they were sub par. Undeterred, I rolled out a whole range of excuses. I told myself that the band members are young, they’ve barely toured, and they’re under a lot of pressure as an up-and-coming “it” band.
But after seeing them last night I can report this: Yuck is the Lloyd Dobler of bands. Totally dreamy in theory, but weird in real life. (I mean, seriously, Lloyd Dobler was kind of a stalker. The hottest stalker ever, but a stalker nonetheless.) The songs were still there, but the execution was all off. The Firebird probably has the one of the best sound systems of any venue in St. Louis, but you wouldn’t know it. It was all drums, the whole set. The sweet guitar melodies and the harmonizing vocals were all there, but they were totally drowned out by snare crash and cymbal clang. I walked around the decently crowded room, trying to find a place where the sound was less harsh, but there was no sweet spot to be found.
The sound got shockingly better at the end of the set with “Operation” and extendo-jam closer “Rubber.” The only difference between these songs and the others was volume. The band members had turned around and cranked up the amps in preparation for rockitude. They were suddenly louder and more loose, clearly feeling what they were playing for the first time all night.
Still, I’m full of excuses. Maybe Yuck was just having an off night? The members seemed sweet enough when they spoke between songs, taking care to ask the crowd the final score of the all-important Cardinals game. During one of the set breaks, they mentioned that they were bummed because their van had just been broken into. My heart sank. Was Yuck going to be added to the long list of touring bands who have had their property stolen while in town? A quick check of the band’s Twitter account revealed Chicago thugs as the culprits. Booya.
So conditions might not have been the best. Morale might have been low. Spirits dampened. It wasn’t a bad show, it just wasn’t the best show ever — and I thought it would be. And maybe my expectations were too high, but I think Yuck can do better. I will not waiver in my devotion. The album is still freakin’ perfect, and I’ll probably listen to it again today. Though our first date kind of sucked, we are still meant for each other. I still wanna have Yuck’s babies. I hope they come back to town so we can try again.
- link: Riverfront Times
Yuck released one of the best albums of 2011. The London band’s self-titled debut encompasses everything great about ’90s indie rock all squished into one album. It contains melody, distortion and a tons of volume. Unfortunately, these distinctive qualities have earned Yuck a reputation in the music media as grunge revivalists. This label has divided the press, with authors either claiming that Yuck is recycled and derivative or ambassadors of the next alternative generation.
Either way, there’s no getting around it: Yuck sounds like ’90s rock — but only the best parts of really, really good ’90s rock. Shit, it’s not like the band is being constantly compared to Limp Bizkit or Matchbox 20 or even Bush. Yuck only gets compared to legendary, groundbreaking bands like friggin’ Teenage Fanclub and GD Dinosaur Jr and Sonic MFing Youth. It’s a compliment, really.
Still, the group’s sound extends beyond these comparisons. It also balances My Bloody Valentine-esque scorchers with a whole host of sweeter sounds, like that of Pavement or Neil Young or bits of the great C86 bands. These comparisons are especially impressive considering that all of the band members in Yuck are in their early 20s. They didn’t witness the rise and fall of alternative rock — they were still toddlers when Nevermind came out. Still, the kids in Yuck reference their indie forefathers with great maturity and skill.
Part of this competence comes from experience. Yuck’s two main songwriters, Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom, have been in bands together since they were teenagers. A couple of years ago, Blumberg and Bloom quit the (relatively successful) Brit band Cajun Dance Party to form Yuck. With the addition of bass player Mariko Doi (of London via Hiroshima) and American drummer Jonny Rogoff, the lineup was complete. And the band wasted no time making their mark: it’s already played SXSW, recorded a Daytrotter session and toured with Times New Viking, Tame Impala and its heroes, Teenage Fanclub. Yuck is even scheduled to perform on the much anticipated Weezer cruise.
Despite a few disparaging reviews by out-of-touch rock critics, the band has been entirely embraced by audiences. They dig it. And it’s the fans who have pushed the band to the top of the indie underground. Yuck’s debut was released early this year on the righteous Fat Possum label and it’s been so well-received by the public that it’s being re-issued this month with six bonus tracks.
Check out Yuck for yourself this Tuesday at the Firebird with White Denim and Porcelain Raft.
- Riverfront Times – link