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EERDERE EDITIES | 2008 | MUZIEK | YOUTHMOVIES


Biography

Formerly known as Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies, the Oxford-based quintet Youthmovies were formed in 2002 by Andrew Mears (guitar, vocals), Al English (guitar), Graeme Murray (drums), and Stephen Hammond (bass). Brass player/keyboardist Sam Scott soon joined the lineup.

 

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Youthmovies wasted little time in fashioning a frenetic sound comprised of math rock rhythms, spoken word samples, distorted guitars, and blasts of horn. Quickfix Recordings issued the mini-album Let's Get Going... You're Fracturing Me with This Misery in 2003, and as the band's sound progressed, so did its musical influence in Oxford. Several members founded the local label Try Harder Records, while frontman Andrew Mears launched a side project, Foals, only to leave when the group's popularity started to rival that of Youthmovies.

Meanwhile, the band continued to grow and record, releasing both a single (Ores) and a second mini-album (Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness) in 2005. Youthmovies also established itself as a unique live act, touring frequently (with bands like iForward, Russia!, 65daysofstatic, Blood Red Shoes, etc.) and often providing live soundtracks for films. A collaboration with San Diego's Adam Gnade resulted in the Honey Slides EP in fall 2007.

 

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Good Nature, Youthmovies first long-play just released in Spring 2008, is the culmination of more than five years hard work. The progress from the band's preceding EP couldn't be clearer: this is fiery ambition committed to digital disc, the sound of five hungry souls realising all their potential in a blinding flourish of compositional extravagance and exemplary musicianship.

 

Discography

-) 2003 : 'Let's Get Going... You're Fracturing Me with This Misery' on Fierce Panda.

Drowned In Sound's point of view:

And so it’s the latest in a wide batch of post-everything screw-rock students. It matters not any more to hold a semi-solid structure to form your ‘song’ around, as long as there is some feeling; some passion; some art; some fat bollocks to stand on a stage and wank around on some pretty, sparkly gadget while 200 people stand around and stare in awe as somehow THIS is making beautiful noises.

Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies are a band. They are an angular band. It’s becoming a joke. Sweaty little fucks, dripping all over the computers they got their student loans for, bleeping and faux-angst screaming their way to stardom… a beautifully deserved stardom. Who do they think they are? You don’t even need to see it. It flies out through the stereo. This is a reason to take these guys seriously.

Do not be bitter. It is an unattractive trait. This is good. Accept it.

With loops and samples, stammering and stampeding through lush harmonies that wash over you with shards of excellence and thunderous cacophonies thrashing your sorry souls with cake tins and murmurs through what are certainly not youth movie soundtracks. I can’t finish that sentence, so I start afresh. Conjure up your favourite post-rock extravaganza band and take away a couple of unnecessary guitars and add minimalist, intentionally disjointed musical allegories and add some crazy electronic bullshit that clearly will electrocute the sweaty fucks and then imagine as much clothing as an artist that digs their own shit… Again, I can’t finish that sentence. This is all in the music. Probably.

There is a certain pretentious beauty about a level abstraction as high as this. But what is pretence when you believe in your pretence? And you’re not pretending. Is that still pretence? Or is it the truth? What you are.

The post- concept is perceived to be the future of rock, and so this is what the majority of bands will look like in times to come. It is a frightening prospect. There are no songs here. To understand that this is all old news is stupid. You think you aren’t stupid. Fab - site. Raz - site.

misery

 

-) 2005 : 'Ores' on Fierce Panda.

This is Fake DIY's point of view:

Already one of the most unpredictable bands in the country, Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies have taken another unexpected turn; they've written a song clocking in at just under four minutes. Famed for their year-long tracks and soaring soundscapes, this is quite a departure from their soon to be re-pressed debut album. That's not to say it isn't good.

If you could take the best of YMSS cramped in to two minutes, add some dancy synth, handclapping, dual/duelling vocals and nonsensical lyrics about cuttlefish and ships in the ocean and stir well, you'd manage to create one of the most interesting pieces of music this writer's heard in a while. Veering from Radiohead style melancholic meanderings to brutal dischordant riffing and jerky patterns all over the shop, 'Ores' is exactly the single YMSS need. This is how rock music should be – exciting, edgy, raw yet controlled, passionate and emotive.

Del Noble - site.

ores

 

-) 2005 : 'Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness' on Fierce Panda.

Prog Archives's point of view:

Modern Prog as it should be.

Or, to give it its full title: ‘Hurrah! Another year, surely this one will be better than the last; the inexorable march of progress will lead us all to happiness’. You can say what you like about that title, and about YMSS themselves (pretentious post-graduate snobs, perhaps?), but anything negative will be struck from the record, as this EP-cum-album (four songs it may have, but with not one of them dipping below the six-minute mark, it’s longer than many a full-length) is practically perfect; saying that it’s not is as futile as telling Michael Moore that he’s wrong.

Let’s do an I-Spy checklist of possible influences, shall we? To my somewhat limited ears, there are traces of the following across ’Hurrah!’: Spy Versus Spy, 90 Day Men, Muse, Sweep The Leg Johnny, Fugazi, 31 Knots and Yes. Am I right? Who cares; the point is that such a list proves the record’s reluctance to be easily categorised. YMSS aren’t easy to tackle, critically – they throw many a curveball into the make up of every song, and thus, are a refreshing delight. Of the bands above, Sweep’s influence can be clearly heard on the sax-assisted squall of ’Recovery Speak’. If Radiohead spent more time looking to the stars than they do checking Q every 12 months to see if they’re still the ‘best band in Britain/the World/the Universe’ (depending on how slow a month it is down at Emap), they might just be able to produce a track as unashamedly epic as ‘The Pitch And Yaw Of Satellites’ – four-and-a-half minutes in it lurches skywards, causing goosebumps of pleasure to rush across the listener’s body; at eight-minutes in it repeats the feat, only this time with increased gusto. It’s a revelatory opener – aggressive, yet beautifully controlled – that has to be heard to be believed.

I can’t write a review without picking out at least one ‘fault’, so (and I’m clutching at straws here) the a cappella vocals on ’A Little Late He Staggered Through The Door And Into Her Eyes’ don’t really work for me, sorry. They sound limp compared to the might of everything else on the EP. But, let’s be fair: such a minor, personal criticism doesn’t detract at all from a record that would be served a gross injustice if it was summarised as merely ‘essential’. No, that’d be selling it short and some.

Just buy it, okay?

Mike Diver - site.

hurrah

 

-) 2005 : 'Homeless Music' (self-released).

homeless

 

-) 2007 : 'Live at All Tomorrows Parties 2007' on Drowned In Sound Records.

live

 

-) 2008 : 'Honey Slides' with Adam Gnade on Try Harder Records.

Fly Global Music's point of view:

What happens when an American with a reputation for freak-folk teams up with some Oxford indie rock cinematic types? The answer is a rather addictive EP called Honey Slides out on the ever-adventurous Try Harder Records WORK

Adam Gnade is the American in question who teamed up with Youthmovies on a two week UK tour. As the five tracks were written on the road, it shouldn’t come as much as a surprise that Gnade has some Jack Kerouac influences in his beat-folk-rap-poetry along with an emo-like love of long titles.

Recorded in the summer back in Oxford, on the music side, Youthmovies, Al English and Andrew Mears (guitars), Graeme Murray (drums), Stephen Hammond (bass, synthesizer) and Sam Scott (trumpet, flugelhorn, organ) provide the psychedelic ambience that owes as much the experimental electronic jazz scene (a la Jim Black of ZAUM/Torque) as indie-pop bands.

The first two tracks are more guitar-based emoish (somewhere between early Talking Heads and an electric Willy Mason) but the inclusion of a trumpet provides some soul.

What really makes this a great collaboration, which does justice to Adam’s “talking-song” style are the remaining ambient ones. You wouldn’t want to be listening to this on the car stereo, broken down in the depths of a moonless night, in a forest, on your own, as it’ll be too scary. But then again, you might. If you’re brave enough try ‘We’re Unknowing In The Crosshairs, We Walk Unknowing In The Cross Hairs’ and ‘We Were Born From Floodwaters’. Ideal for the soundtrack of Hereos for the surreal druggy sections.

Talking of drugs, ‘Snake Lore, Part II: Hold Back The Flame, O Weary Friends!’ seems like a tribute to the old Lizard King himself, Jim Morrison.

Ambitious or ambient Cinematic Orchestra? A better comparison would be an ‘indie’ version of the spirit of Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Bands’ Leggo De Lion based on Joseph’s book The African Origins of UFOs.

Gnade’s first book Hymn California continues the narrative of the characters from these ‘songs’, and it comes out this winter which will be about the time Youthmovies will release their debut album.

Gerry Hectic - site.

honey

 

-) 2008 : 'Good Nature' on Drowned In Sound Records.

Loud & Quiet's point of view:

It is still February, and the evenings will get lighter, and darken again, before the year is out. But all the same, this LP could potentially be an album of the year. But that’s a big ‘could’ – it all depends on whether anyone can fully get their head around what the hell takes place across these 61 minutes of noise within the next eleven months.

On first listen, ‘Good Nature’ is a dense, perplexing mess, the musical equivalent of a particularly intense Vicky Pollard monologue. Full of unintelligible mantras and screams, drones, mood swings and slogans, euphoria, depression, anger and terror, all often simultaneously, this is at Ulysses/Mulholland Drive/Autechre levels of confusing. It’s a teenager’s bedroom of a record: everything is on display, all over the floor, spilling out of drawers, pinned to the wall, with every item as instantly obvious to its curator as it is obscured from its observer. At more that an hour in length, this kind of record should be irritatingly unlistenable, overly superior, uninviting and smug – and, occasionally, it is.

But thankfully ‘Good Nature’ has one huge saving grace: with every completed listen there’s an overwhelming urge to hit play again, instantly, if not for pleasure then simply to understand a little more. Like asking a magician to repeat a sleight of hand, the album’s riddles slowly unravel with every rotation, so that alongside the noisenik outbursts and swathes of experimental fuzz there appears a beautiful trumpet figure or a tiny, hidden four-bar tune. Little by little, seemingly random mid-song tempo, key and even genre changes start assuming patterns that become satisfyingly recognisable. Listens become like treasure hunts, equally revealing and frustrating, but the fog starts to lift to reveal a carefully conceived and painstakingly constructed rock album with often brilliant playing and diverse themes.

Of course, just because an album is hard work, it doesn’t mean it’s good – often when the songs reveal themselves, they simply reveal naive, overambitious, overlong noodles. However, for every miscue (and there are a few here that seriously betray the youth of their creators with cringingly crass lyrics and overdependence on production gimmickry), there is a complex, warm and beautiful composition of serious worth. It may be tough-going, frequently overreach itself and be in desperate need of a good editor, but for a debut album ‘Good Nature’ is a staggering piece of work. Ballsy, massively ambitious, exuberant and endlessly fascinating, it could just take over the world, if only enough people learn how to speak its language.

8/10 in stores March 17

Sam Walton - site.

good

 

Audio

You can listen to a few tracks here.

 

Video

Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies - Ores

Youthmovies - The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor

 

Web

-) Official site.
-) Drowned In Sound.