Music

Young Rival: Young Rival

Young Rival raises the question: Have all the guitar-bass-drums permutations that make up rock songs been used up?


Young Rival

Young Rival

Label: Sonic Unyon
US Release Date: 2010-06-08
UK Release Date: 2010-05-24
Amazon
iTunes

When you hear the same old riffs being recycled and lyrics that sound like clichés whether or not they actually are, do you begin to wonder if all the guitar-bass-drums permutations that make up rock songs have already been used up? Unfortunately, that's a question that comes to mind once you dig into "Got What You Need", the opening track of the Eponymous debut album by Canadian upstarts, Young Rival. While Young Rival bolts out of the gate appealingly enough with some roughed-up lo-fi guitars, the vocals quickly break whatever momentum the band has going for it by stringing together unconnected phrases that must have come from a well-worn rock & roll thesaurus. For up-and-comers trying to stand out, first lines like "Here / Here I go again / There / There you are" aren't exactly going to draw anyone's attention. The uninspired lyrics only have a boomerang effect when it comes to appreciating Young Rival's sound, which, on second thought, seems less spontaneous as a redux of the Strokes' updating of Television.

"Got What You Need" is representative of the album as whole: Young Rival boasts good vibes and a real jolt of energy, but those building blocks aren't enough to give much new life to the group's by-the-numbers approach to garage rock. While it's not fair to accuse a band with Young Rival's effort and will of simply going through the motions, there's too much of a reliance on attitude and not enough originality to make a strong first impression. The debut lacks its own vision, as the quartet retraces the steps of its influences rather than using them as a starting point for its own take on garage rock.

In particular, the impact of the Strokes on Young Rival is too literal: Whereas that band used the tradition of NYC punk as a jumping-off point for its own distinctive approach, Young Rival isn't quite able to step out of its predecessors' shadow and seems too rote in expressing its admiration. "Modern Life", for one, is full of trite fragments, be it the sound-bite lyrics ("Nobody cares / I know why / Cause there's nothing left / In this modern life") or the all-too-familiar guitar chug. "Just Can't Stay Here" doesn't break any new ground either, especially with singer Aron D'Alesio copping Julian Casablancas' diffident speak-singing sneer a little too obviously -- only the hipster icon is probably too cool to be caught uttering forced rhymes like, "I just can't stay here / I ain't no sucker / Don't want to see that girl I know / Hangin' out with some fucker".

It's when Young Rival gives up the swaggering poses and lets its guard down that the band finds something like its own voice. Once it's shorn of its shaggy-haired leather-jacket aesthetic, Young Rival comes through with its most appealing and under-the-radar songs, such as "At the Break of Dawn", which sounds breathless and striving while maintaining a lower profile. Better yet is the aptly named "Don't Make a Sound": A song that takes NYC punk -- be it the '70s original or the millennial version -- into the basement, the track is tuneful and vulnerable, more urgent in its quiet, almost whispered tones than any of the more boisterous tunes.

But such moments are frustratingly fleeting, since "Don't Make a Sound" is followed up by "Workin'", on which the group sounds less like an overdriven Strokes than an anonymous power trio. In the end, less could be more for Young Rival, since there's a better EP of fresh material stretched into a less compelling, less original full-length. While Young Rival might be good enough at what it does, the problem is that it has all been done before. And done better than what is offered here.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image