One can only imagine the hotch-potch of musical genres that crop up at band practice and jam sessions when the three members of American band, Yonder Boys, meet up to discuss ideas. Such is the varied background of each member (the lineup sounds like the beginning of a joke; “an American, an Australian and a Chilean walk into a bar…”) that the musical voodoo that is created comes from three different corners of the globe. Yet somehow, it comes together beautifully to make something that doesn’t fit into any single genre.
Part Americana, part Bluegrass, part sixties pop, part choral music. The music is difficult to categorise but it’s accessible and will creep up on even the most cynical of music fan.
The music reminds me in part of Seattle indie band, Fleet Foxes, in the way they combine rich vocal harmonies with often stark musical accompaniment yet still produce songs that are enjoyable to listen to and stick in your head long after you’ve pressed ‘stop’.
Opening track, ‘Rabbit Song’ sounds as if it were written a hundred years ago and sung by hunters as they carried their rifles through the misty farmlands of central America, yet the album takes a turn and we’re treated to a poignant, gentle track in ‘Eagle Song’. If ever there was a song to enjoy your morning coffee to, it’s this.
‘New Bohemians’ begins with, “homesick in Munich can’t pay the rent. Can’t go back home under this new president!” showing that, even if the music has a foot in the past, the band has at least one eye on the present. The band all live in Berlin, not the first place you would expect to find musicians with these backgrounds but perhaps politics played a part in them leaving their respected continents.
‘The Great American Pussy Grab’ (another nod to a certain questionable leader) is the radio-friendly offering and owes much to the vocal layering of the Beach Boys. It’s undeniable pop and stands out from the album as the “look over here!” track, but there are connections to the rest of the album that don’t make it feel like it’s a complete attention-seeking floozie!
I think my favourite track is ‘Mosey on Down’, it put me in mind of a rainy afternoon in New Orleans, someone huddled into their coat walking down Bourbon Street as the ghosts of their surroundings whirl around them.
Overall, the album is a triumph. It must be said that if you’ve got a banjo in the band, I’m going to like it anyway, but the richness is the vocals and the way that the genres are shifted and bent, makes it an enjoyable trip into a style of music that can step between genres and still produce something authentic.
This is a band I will be keeping an eye on in the future.