Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Yam Haus - Stargazer (2018)
Written by Aaron Ellis, posted by blog admin
Yam Haus first formed during high school and the Wisconsin four piece relocated to the Minneapolis area after graduation. Their first full length recording, Stargazer, is an unlikely tour de force from a cadre of young musicians and songwriters who clearly demonstrate their remarkable chemistry. It is unusual to discover a young band playing with this level of cohesiveness so early on and it results a fully realized first effort the band will have a difficult time surpassing, but there’s no indication they’ve explored the limits of their talent with this debut collection. The title song kicks things off with tremendous uplift and establishes an approach to their pop songs with this track continuing through later tracks. The blending of slashing electric guitar chords, a light drumming stomp, and colorful synthesizer lines make for a first class album opener.
“West Coast” isn’t as clearly built around its chorus as the first song is, but it nevertheless has a sure handed pop touch and remarkably mature lyrics for the form. Despite the obvious commercial nature of Yam Haus’ songwriting, they don’t shy away from tackling the subject matter of their material with a mix of clear-eyed adult perspectives linking up with their youthful energy. The second track is immensely stylish as well. The stylishness continues with the third track “Kingdom”, a song continuing in much the same vein we heard with earlier tracks, and featuring the same sort of impactful chorus that helped push the title track over the top. They rein their pop strengths in some with the track “Too Many People”, exchanging the synthesizers of earlier numbers in favor of piano, but the same strengths remain in evidence while also unleashing Lars Pruitt’s voice in a way we didn’t experience with the opening songs.
“Right Now, Forever” does a 180 degree from the earlier numbers into “unplugged” territory but the band sounds just as comfortable in these comparatively spartan surroundings as they do during the aforementioned pop numbers. Guitar is part of a greater overall whole for Yam Haus, but they do possess ample six string firepower even during these more muted numbers; guitarist Seth Blum distinguishes himself thanks to his playing prowess during this song. “Bad News” has one of the best pure pop melodies on the release, especially its vocal melody, and Lars Pruitt’s singing rates among his best moments on Stargazer. Despite his prominence on the album, however, we never get the sense this is a one man show or glorified solo vehicle. Yam Haus sound like a band from first song to last.
“We Are the Storm” has stronger electric guitar presence than anything else preceding it, excepting the title song perhaps, and Blum dishes out some impressively rugged riffing for the song while still keeping it consistent with the band’s over-arching sound. Pruitt proves himself capable of taking on a rougher edged tune and sounding just as convincing as he does elsewhere. Yam Haus’ Stargazer is rife with softer strains as well showing, conclusively, that their debut offers something for listeners of every stripe. Casual and hardcore music fans alike can and will find much to admire with this album.
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