Young The Giant

Young The Giant

Roadrunner, 2011

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


If hybrid vigor—the axiom that combining genetic material with significantly different components often results in an end product that’s more vigorous than either of its antecedents—ever needed poster boys, Newport, California quintet Young The Giant fit the bill perfectly. Blending the influences of the band members’ diverse Indian, Persian, British, and French- Canadian heritages, Young The Giant delivers an end product that’s decidedly hybrid and nothing if not vigorous.

It must be said also that Young The Giant—perfect name for this group, by the way—wear their ambitions on their sleeves; they are not looking to make a small record. They are looking to blow your mind, not with surface flash or some sort of studied earthiness, but by delivering the kind of epic, yet precise and heartfelt, music that groups like U2 often aspire to (and bands like Coldplay can only dream of). Add in lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia’s ability to project every color of emotion from sweeping confidence to quavering vulnerability, and you’ve got a group that sounds more than a little like Jeff Buckley fronting U2 (and if that doesn’t sound amazing to you, it should).

Stylistic touchstones aside, Young The Giant have more than enough character, talent and uniqueness to put their own stamp on these songs. Their exotic gumbo of musical heritages influences not so much the core of these songs, which are fundamentally big-hearted, big-voiced rock and roll, but the fringes, the textures and subtle melodic touches that color the music and give it depth, making these songs feel both timeless and brightly new.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The key to their sound is dynamics. Tunes like “Cough Syrup” expertly locate and mine the quiet moments within the song before exploding into the bigger ones, while “God Made Man” pulls off the same thing on a bigger scale, holding its airy tension tight for almost three minutes before erupting into a moment that almost inevitably feels special. “Garands” makes this easy-then-surging dynamic feel elemental, almost tidal.

The added spice in this approach comes in the exotic, almost indecipherably Eastern components of songs like the opening “Apartment,” which features a complex guitar figure at the core of the song while the rest of the band plows ahead and falls back, over and over. Near the end of this disc the boys execute the same idea in a totally different way on “Street Walker,” which employs stretched out, Eastern chords and cadences to paint an eerie, evocative urban soundscape over an insistent bass line. Other tracks of note would have to include “I Got,” with its silky-smooth vocals over a stuttering beat, and the airy, atmospheric closer “Guns Out,” which feels in places like a lost cut from Grace.

Really, though, I’ve been a bit of a tease here, talking around the standout cut on this album; for once The Big Single lives up to its label, and how. “My Body” is simply unstoppable, a powerhouse, skyscraping tune about persistence and resilience that is built around a monster hook that seems destined to set heads a-nodding and feet a-tapping wherever it goes. Whatever this album retails for, “My Body” is worth that price all by itself.

The combination of Gadhia’s commanding vocal presence and the spot-on playing of Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar/vocals), Payam Doostzadeh (bass) and Francois Comtois (drums/vocals) promises great things for the future of Young The Giant. They have already wowed smaller audiences at showcases like South By Southwest—helping them land the contract with Roadrunner that resulted in this self-titled debut disc—and now it’s time for the wider world to get a taste.  Young The Giant are clearly ready to live up to their name—they are that strong, that ambitious, and that deserving.

Rating: A

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© 2011 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner, and is used for informational purposes only.