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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

(the) Young Fresh Fellows - Totally Lost~ Electric Bird Digest*

Name: (the) Young Fresh Fellows
Album: Totally Lost~, Electric Bird Digest*
Year: 1988~, 1991*
Style: College Radio Rock
Similar Bands: Melodic Sonic Youth, Screaming Trees, Replacements, Meat Puppets, Guided By Voices, Camper Van Beethoven~, Ramones*, Dead Milkmen* Pansy Division*, They Might Be Giants* Apples In Stereo*
"One-Word" Review: Smart-Allecky-Nerd-Snob-music.
Based Out Of: Seattle, WA
Label: Frontier Records~*, BMG*
Totally Lost - Cover & Back & Tape
Totally Lost - Liner Notes & Tape
Electric Bird Digest - Cover & Back
Electric Bird Digest - Liner Notes & CD

Totally Lost (1988)
  1. Everything's Gonna Turn Out Great 3:59
  2. Failure 2:50
  3. The Universal Trendsetter 2:17
  4. Don't Look at My Face, You Might See What I Mean 2:15
  5. I'd Say That You Were Upset 1:59
  6. No Help At All 4:19 /
  7. No One Really Knows 2:57
  8. Little Softy 3:22
  9. Take My Brain Away 2:49
  10. Celebration 3:05
  11. Picky Piggy 2:09
  12. Totally Lost 4:14
Electric Bird Digest (1991)
  1. The Telephone Tree 2:29
  2. Sittin On A Pitchfork 2:34
  3. Looking Around 2:57
  4. Hillbilly Drummer Girl 3:02
  5. Whirlpool 3:48
  6. Once In A While 3:35
  7. The Teen Thing 0:42
  8. Thirsty 2:30
  9. Fear Bitterness and Hatred 2:41
  10. Hard To Mention 2:59
  11. Tomorrow's Gone (And So Are You) 2:24
  12. Evening 3:37
  13. There's A Love 4:39
  14. Swiftly But Gently 3:32
Album Rating (1-10): ~8.0 *9.0
Members & Other Bands:
Chuck Carrol - Guitar~
Kurt Bloch - Guitar, Vox* (Fastbacks, Sgt. Major)
Scott McCaughey - Guitar, Piano, Organ, Vox *~ (Minus 5, REM, Baseball Project, KMRIA, Lowe Beats)
Jim Sangster - Bass, Guitar, Drums*~ (Sgt. Major, Lowe Beats, Trip Wires)
Tad Hutchinson - Drums, Vox*~, Back Cover Painting~(Chris & Tad)
Butch Vig - Producer, Engineer*
Mr. Colson - Engineer*
Marty Perez - Photography*
Doug Erb - Art Direction*
Bruce "Cecil" Louden - Piano*
Tina Nielsen - Idiotic Outfitting*
Jeff from Spooner - Farfisa Use*
Kim Fastback - Duff's Bass*
Conrad Uno - Producer~
David B. Greenberger - Cover Painting~
Rosanne Olson - Back Cover Photo~
Wendy Sherman - Design~
John Golden - Mastering~

Unknown-ness: Being a fan of They Might Be Giant, I heard of these guys in the lyric “She doesn’t have to have her Young Fresh Fellows tapes back, now” from the song “Twisting.” And that was enough for me to be curious. So I picked up the tape some time ago, and the CD later used, but I don’t really remember listening to them, so I don’t actually know what they sound like. Although from the cover of EBD, they look Weird Al silly. And this supports my image of them, just from being mentioned in the TMBG song. Some of their song titles also support this silliness too. I’m guessing they are a fun rock band, similar to the Dead Milkmen, TMBG, and perhaps even a little Ween. But what do I know?

Album Review:
Not knowing the singer was part of the Young Fresh Fellows, I’ve seen him and the Minus 5 open for Robyn Hitchcock some years ago. I remember that I liked them enough to keep an eye out for an album of theirs used.

~“Everything's Gonna Turn Out Great” is a dark, murky rock and roll song. Juxtaposed against the optimistic title, the song pulls in two directions of musical heaviness and lyrical lightness. The singing reminds me a bit of Sonic Youth while the music reminds me of Screaming Trees. The background singing of “Everything” reminds me of Flansburg of TMBG. Eventually it loses the darkness and just rocks out for a long repetition of the chorus. But it ends with one final dark section
“Failure” is much more poppy and typical pop-rock. Which again juxtaposes two themes, just in the opposite way: happy music, and depressed lyrics. The vocals are sung more than the first song, and are a little smoother too.
“The Universal Trendsetter” rocks from the get go, with fast paced, driving music and energetic lyrics, a bit of wackiness like John Schmersal from Enon.
“Don't Look at My Face, You Might See What I Mean” is a folky-rock song, maybe even a bit country, too. Similar to Camper Van Beethoven & Cracker
“I'd Say That You Were Upset” features horns and bops pretty quickly along with fast singing and a bouncy groove.
“No Help At All” begins orchestrally, and it turns into a slow paced slumping strut, reminding me of the Meat Puppets. The harmonized chorus is a catchy little hook. There are some lead guitar flares and the horns add to the chorus, but the basic tempo never grows or adjusts.

“No One Really Knows” is sung like an acoustic Dead Milkmen punk song. The entire rolling melody is catchy and it differentiates with slight changes in pitch to keep it interesting. It does tend to become a bit repetitive toward the end of the song, but it is a good hook. It feels like Hoboken music, or perfect for college radio.
“Little Softy” begins hard, and the vocals are uttered poetically, but without melody over the chugging bass and drums, with lead guitar fills added here and there. I can see a comparison to Guided by Voices here.
“Take My Brain Away” is quietly sung like a campfire folk-ballad with steady drums and slide guitar.
“Celebration” is a fun, nasally, bouncy pop song, similar to “No One Really Knows.” There are lots of little hooks in the vocals that remind me of oldies rock and roll singles. The verses build well, and the delivery is a short couple of notes. The word celebration is run into the ground at the end, with different inflections in the notes, which makes it interesting, but still repetitive.
“Picky Piggy” begins with a renaissance harpsichord sound, but then it picks up the pace and rocks out, sounding a bit like the Lemonheads, or a lighter Husker Du. The bass line would fit right in on a Violent Femmes record. It is a very fun and pleasant song.
“Totally Lost” had a bit of the 70’s Kinks, southern jug band sound to it with its stomp drums, umpa bouncy bass and twangy guitar. The song winds down like a watch losing its spring tension.

*“The Telephone Tree” is a loud, noisy rock song with crashing cymbals and a catchy chorus. It is straightforward in its construction, with a lead guitar instrumental break. And it ends with a second set of instrumental work with a simple line quietly buried underneath.
“Sittin On A Pitchfork” sounds just like Pansy Division in vocal style and musical production. It is short, very catchy pop/rock. The instrumentation is turned down in trade for loud, clear vocals. But the music is what the vocals parallel and carry this song along very well
“Looking Around” follows up “Pitchfork” well with a simple pop rock vocal melody. It picks up and becomes pop-punk. It is very driving and has a great momentum. It also has some great synth effects in the background. But where “Pitchfork” is simple and repetitive, this song is more detailed and complex. The verse builds extremely well into the chorus delivery.
“Hillbilly Drummer Girl” is simple, vocal melody driven song that is part ballad, at least in comparison to the other songs here. Some of the vocal eccentricities remind me of the Ramones, as well as They Might Be Giants.
“Whirlpool” this song is more meandering, like their previous album’s material. It kinda floats by without shape or structure. The chorus is vague and does not really stand out, except for the fact that after it, the melody returns to the verse. His vocals here are a little reminiscent of Apples In Stereo.
“Once In A While” starts with fuzzy guitars and picks up the melody with calm smooth vocals, again similar to Apples in Stereo. It ends with an odd, chaotic drum fill, completed with a last loud strum.
“The Teen Thing” is a parody of any oldie from 1950. It reminds me of That Thing You Do, but a little less catchy, and much less produced.

On “Thirsty” I’m immediately reminded of Apples in Stereo again. The song structure is identical and the vocal melody is the same. There is even a backwards, psychedelic section that changes things up a bit from the norm.
“Fear Bitterness and Hatred” has a loud, rocking Dinosaur Jr. esq beginning. From there, it is not as quirky as Dino Jr. It is not as catchy as the rest of the album, as the melody does not flow into catchiness as you can hear on the other melodies. This is a more alternative, guitar based song.
“Hard To Mention” starts off right away with a Buzzcocks style electric guitar hook. And from there the guitar chugs along behind quiet, calm loving pop lyrics. The guitar returns for the instrumental bridge. It ends with 20 seconds to spare, where there is a weird song bit, almost as if they recorded it over a different song, and just left the ending there.
“Tomorrow's Gone (And So Are You)” begins very metal-ish, but then the vocals soften it up with their light, nasally polite cadence. The song is fast paced, but the vocals provide the perfect balance to the loud music. The vocals remind me of the previously reviews Fabulous Fondas as well. The chours is a good bit of call and response vocals from a shouting choir behind the lead vocals.
“Evening” is a concert opening song, with a dark, marching beat and metal lead guitar stunts. This would be more character on Totally Lost, rather than here, but it just shows that they still have that part to their music repertoire. On some of the verse sections, he changes it up and sings smoothly, but the majority it is the spoken/sung genre of singing. It ends with heavy guitar chugging suddenly.
“There's A Love” has a whiny electric wha-wha guitar introduction. But the song simplifies itself and transforms into a new wave ballad with monotone vocals and the whiny guitar chugging along too. Toward the end of the song, the lead guitar overtakes the wha-wha rhythm guitar and goes off on a shredding spree.
“Swiftly But Gently” is a nice middle level song, part shoe-gazing pop, part rock with monotone smooth repetitive vocals with a simple melody that is like a children’s nursery rhyme.

Stand Out Tracks: ~Picky Piggy
*Looking Around


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