Bo Diddley: “I’m from South America.”
Other conversation participant: “What part?”
Bo Diddley: “South Texas.”
“The girls like me”
First of all, I knew this guy wasn’t from the Midwest, because he (apparently) doesn’t sadistically hate Dead Poets Society (I’m guessing that’s where this band’s name comes from, as in Robin Williams’ character’s curricular “barbaric yawp”). Nowadays The Yawpers are haunting Denver as their chosen stomping grounds, a city with a decently hospitable pop/punk scene, but often, at least up until now, somewhat lacking in true ORIGINALITY.
Well, that noose around its neck has been slackened ever so slightly as, with these suspects here, the most notable aspect is the incredible amount of care they take when constructing a song, regarding aspects of the song’s texture, flow. Then, the next most prominent piece of this Yawpers puzzle is undoubtedly Nate Cook’s voice, which comes across not so much as a Southern dude wearing his southernness on his sleeve in a charming, rockabilly way, as it does just so da** FOREIGN as to assign it a novelty appeal, purely thereby. Indeed, without this frontman the Denver dudes stray undoubtedly close to territory of the FORMULAIC, but with him they muster tension, energy and surprise.
Make no mistake, though: the entirety of this band, which has been making albums since ’12, got talent in a big way. Drummer Noah Shomberg works in tandem with Cook to push “A Decision is Made,” a song which by the way is way too short, over the edge: the singer yowls out leading into an incredible punk chorus (the first real aggressive instance on this rockabilly album), but it’s Shomberg snare work, tight, unpredictable and steeped in ragtime, that provides the key foundation for an overall ode which takes you back to the days of hoe-downs and sunsets (unfortunately, Denver is a place where you can’t see any sunsets because the mountains are right there to the west).
Well, for where “A Decision is Made” is cut short, we know the reason: the peddling of this boring, stick-in-the-mud “Room with a View” which would make a perfect closeur on one of these bad new Band of Skulls albums (too bad it’s slapped down at track four here). “Mon Dieu” picks the tempo and energy back up again, thankfully enough, but that “prairie beat” is getting a little old at this point, though commendable in fractals for reminding of Tapes ’n Tapes’ “Insistor.” “The Awe and the Anguish” comes in full of translucent, treated banjo, and again, the result would be more excusable placed toward album’s finale, but at midway it just breaks up the energy, also marking a certain songwriting chasm of the band’s — they’ve yet to reconcile these two styles they champion, boogie and blues (basically black Southern music and white Southern music, in other words), and until they fuse these into something that can actually carry energy in a room, rather than mope around like some spoiled, self-centered teenager, we’ll be looking at a grade-b band here in The Yawpers.