zaterdag 11 juli 2015
On Blonde. Yukon Blonde
To me Yukon Blonde is a new name, but for Canadians it is not, as perhaps to many music lovers who are even deeper into music than I already am. The core of the band formed in 2005, but carries this name since 2008. On Blonde is the band's third full length album. The band's principal member is Jeff Innes, who sings and plays guitar, next to writing most of the material. The other members are: Brandon Scott on guitar; Graham Jones on drums and James Younger on bass. All three do backing vocals. There are more ex-members than current ones, so whether this is a solid line-up I have no way of telling. There are also a load of keyboards on the album, played by Rebecca Gray, who also sings something here and there. Vancouver is the band's home town, so that makes another Canadian band and especially from Vancouver on this blog this year, although one not introduced by Natalie Ramsay for a change.
Yukon Blonde can be placed in the indie rock section. There are hints towards Fountains of Wayne. Right up in the first song even, but without overdoing it. The backing vocals do a lot of things 60s, even The Beach Boys like harmonies in some of the ooohhhs. In most of the songs the band colours neatly between the lines, without crossing one of my lines, which is a feat worth noticing. This has all to do with the fact that there is a hint of Brit punkfunkers Franz Ferdinand and the late 70s sounds of Gary Newman's Tubeway Army at the time of 'Are Friens Electric?'. Yukon Blonde makes this mix in a very convincing way, which is what caught my ear while listening to the album for the first time. Despite the almost tacky parts in the first song, 'Confused'. It looks like Innes may have been a bit confused while writing and selecting, as the level of all the other songs is so much higher. But who says you have to put the best song up front?
Where things really get smashing is 'I Wanna Be Your Man', no not that The Beatles/The Rolling Stones one, and the almost dancey 'Saturday Night'. The mix between pop, rock and perfection is becoming extremely interesting in these two songs. The next song is more of a ballad, 'Hannah'. In this song Yukon Blonde tries to reach the same mix as Dutch band Villeneuf tries to achieve, combining pop, rock and synths in a convincing way. The role of Rebecca Gray is so large on this track that I wonder why she's not a member of the band. Bands of the 80s like The Human League and Heaven 17 come to mind here and Yukon Blonde comes out on top with only a song like 'Don't You Want Me, Baby?' and 'Let Me Go' hanging over them. Two classics in the genre, mind.
What Yukon Blonde manages to achieve is to (indie) rock out in a convincing way, while at the same time have 80s synths in its songs and 60s vocals. As if each member is a fan of a different band and all brought in that fanship in equal parts. That makes Yukon Blonde softer but more melodic than Franz Ferdinand, less rocking than Fountains of Wayne and over-rocking the mentioned 80s bands, while putting a soul into Tubeway Army. What comes out is On Blonde by Yukon Blonde. A record so nice that it is almost tasty.
A title of an album that of course has an almost 50 year history: 'Blonde On Blonde'. It has nothing to do with the music, but quality wise? If Yukon Blonde is to grow further like Dylan did, the name of the album will prove to be adequately chosen. That time will tell. For now On Blonde is an album very much worth checking out.
You can listen to 'Saturday Night' here:
or buy at Bol.com: