You Blew It! – Grow Up, Dude
You Blew It’s TopShelf Records Debut LP caught me by surprise, and is hopefully a record that will not get overlooked. I requested this record merely out of curiosity, without any expectations whatsoever. What I got was a sentimental throwback to late 90s twinkly emo with punk rock aesthetic, slightly off key vocals, and fist in the air anthems. The quiet guitar jangles and clean melancholy vocal styling of the first track immediately drew me in. It’s only 46 seconds in length, but it’s the perfect lead in to the explosive “Pinball House”, an upbeat rocker with grittier group vocals and loud guitars, over raw production. There is a definite sense of nostalgia in the music that brings me back to my days spent at packed VFW halls, just 100 or so sweaty kids, singing along to every word of every song. This is the feeling You Blew It! create throughout the entire course of the record.
Tracks like “Terry V Torri” will have you instantly hooked when the vocalist belts out from the get go “I’m usually not one to pick fights, but you really crossed the line”, just as the guitar chords, drums and 3 part harmonies come crashing in. The song’s bridge slows down the tempo with their trademark twinkly guitars and emotive group vocals that are reminiscent of Four Minute Mile era Get Up Kids, before breaking down into a head bobbing and melodic upbeat ending that pulls the song back together. “Medal of Honor” takes the opposite approach by starting at a slow pace over quiet guitar chimes before singer belts out “I’m not a fuckin trophy, but to you I might as well be”. This leads into another fist in the air sing along chorus of 3 track vocals, before slowing down into another head bobbing mini-breakdown. Although this may seem formulaic, You Blew It! still knows how to switch gears at the right time. “I Am, I’m Trying”, which most likely serves as track 1 to Side B of the LP, is a peaceful instrumental of layered guitar jangles that slows down both the pace and mood of the album. This is the perfect way to transition into the 2nd half of the record, and it is obvious these guys have had their dose of American Football and The Appleseed Cast. The instrumental is followed by “The Fifties”, another slow song that simply utilizes a cleaner vocal style story telling approach over a noodling guitar lead and bass line, that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Owen or Into It Over It record. The energy level of the album picks right back up on “Good for Bond, Bad For You” , a definite highlight of the record. This is the one song that manages to combine all of the above mentioned techniques utilized throughout the record into one 3.5 minute long snapshot.
You Blew It’s debut LP clearly represents a time when music wasn’t full of over polished production tricks. Instead, they opt for a more stripped down and reckless approach, but that’s what makes it work. In fact, it’s the raw production and chaotic approach that gives this album so much character and sincerity. It’s also what differentiates this band from so many of their contemporaries, who are trying to rehash the sounds of the late 90s with over-production and auto-tune. The songs on this album are honest, full of energy and a vast array of emotions, and remind me of why I fell in love with this type of music in the first place, several years ago. Complex guitar layering, quiet to loud build ups, raw fuzzy distortion, and gang vocal sing along choruses pay homage to the sounds The Get Up Kids, Promise Ring, and Cap’n Jazz helped create in the mid 90s, and without sounding forced. This record could easily fit right on Doghouse, Crank, Deep Elm, or Jade Tree’s mid/late 90s roster, while still sounding current. What I love about these guys is that they clearly know their influences and are not afraid to show it, yet they still manage to find their own sound while focusing on their greatest strengths. And although some will say they sound dated with their throwback 90s emo-punk sound, I can confidently say that they’d have no problem fitting right along side newer bands like Into it Over It, Transit or Polar Bear Club, just as well.
You Blew It! may not be breaking any new ground with their debut LP, but they do a great job of recapturing a period in time when music felt alive and honest. The album drops Tuesday April 24, so do yourself a favor and pick it up!
RIYL: The Get Up Kids, Into It. Over It., Algernon Cadwallader, Transit— Jason Gordon, 04/23/2012