The world around you is asking that you work more, party harder, stay up later. Two out of three music conferences I have attended were sponsored by Monster Energy© and they handed out free energy drinks all day. (The other was a folk music conference where people were jamming and smoking in the hotel stairwells until 5:00 AM)
There is a lot of value to working hard, and some of the best things in my life have happened because I stayed up a little later than my body should have. I have also spent my afternoons wishing I went to bed earlier so I could have started my day with the sun. The party mentality has a lot of value, but perhaps what we truly need in life is balance.
The men who have come to bring you this balance are collectively known as Youth Trend Report. Michael Dawson and Robb Morrison have come together with a debut album that is in many ways direct opposition to the “current state of Monster Energy® endorsed electronic music” as they so deftly put it.
Their Facebook claims there are no bass tracks on the album. While it’s a bit of a hyperbolic statement to separate their music from many contemporaries, by and large your subwoofer is not going to get a lot of work. It’s an interesting choice that left me often feeling like the music was floating in and out of reality – an extrasensory experience not really grounded to this world. When low frequencies do appear they materialize either as kicks that punch holes through the synth curtains or as meditation-inducing drones.
I find myself particularly drawn to the tracks with these low-frequency foundations – “She Talks in Technicolor” is one minute and twenty five seconds long, but I keep returning to it’s indiscernible chatter and spacey bells because they are glued together by a weighty organ hum. There are parallels to be drawn to artists such as James Blake who utilize bass sparingly to great effect, but the difference is Blake’s songwriting often highlights the drop, hoping to rattle your senses with the contrast – I can’t imagine Youth Trend Report is ever trying break me from finding my zen.
There is a bit of a light-hearted deprecation that runs throughout Youth Trend Report’s Life Coach evident just by looking at the titles (the absurd classification in “Sex, Drugs, & Post-Protopunk Minimalism”, the jamming of cultural icons in “Tupac Chopra“, or a subversion of pop-psychedelica in “Bad Vibrations”) but most striking to me is their own assertion that their music “misappropriates classic hip-hop beats”. If they truly believed they were in offence of cultural appropriation I don’t believe they would put out their music, but it is thought-provoking that the hip-hop practice of sampling has been doubled up and the drum sounds you hear might be two artists removed, chopped and screwed beyond their initial intent.
It’s been a pleasure having Life Coach available to me during the holiday season, offering me music to help cleanse my hurried thoughts. It fit wonderfully into my life during bundled up walks or as a replacement soundtrack to indie video games. Next time you feel like grabbing a Monster Energy Drink ™ maybe consider grabbing Youth Trend Report instead.
Life Coach comes out on December 25th, 2015. Get it and chill with your family.
– Jon Neher