(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's Cool - Young Guv, Crawling Back to You

Never judge a book by its cover (or the publisher's hype)

I never saw it coming. Digging through the pile of promo emails to find a gem to share, I came across the most over-the-top, hyperbolic sell job on behalf of Young Guv's new album, Ripe 4 Luv. The last paragraph reels through some crazy comparisons: Cheap Trick produced by Jimmy Jam,  Drake's producter 40 engineering Hall and Oates...it was obviously tongue in cheek, but the hype was so thick that I almost blew it off. Not only that, but the title, "Crawling Back to You", promised a sad whine about unrequited love, which is seldom worth the trouble. For some reason, though, I decided to give it a minute's listen.

Thirty minutes later, I had replayed it a half dozen times, because Young Guv had me hooked. The opening anarchy of scraping strings collapses into a strong indie rock groove worthy of Big Star or Too Much Joy. It builds up before receding behind tightly harmonized vocals reminiscent of the Byrds. The tune is packed with familiar sounding DNA, but somehow transcends any of its inspirations. The jangly walls of guitar and the slick pop vocals combine to form a hook almost as big as the hype from their label. The off-kilter lyrics are also a pleasant surprise, comparing the bygone relationship to the womb. I can honestly say I've never heard the phrase "Placenta sleeping bags for two," before, but I was fairly amused when I teased that line out from the opening verse.

The back story offers its own surprise. Young Guv aka Young Governor aka Ben Cook had his start with hardcore punkers No Warning and then played guitar with the progressive punk Fucked Up. Along the way, he wrote  "We're All To Blame" for Sum 41, That paints a relatively clear picture, but he also claims to have ghostwritten songs for Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson and he's celebrated '80s style pop with a side project, Yacht Club. Maybe that makes Young Guv a nice median persona for Cook. In any case, Ripe 4 Luv is due to release on March 10.

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