Welcome to a special edition of the Melodic Tonic!
Since many of us at The Revue are headed to Newport Folk Festival this week, today’s post is different. Instead of sharing several new singles from multiple artists, I’d like to share several songs from one group. We’re not ones to make predictions, but we think this band will play the festival one day. That’s why we’re sharing their music with you today.
Some music seems custom-made for certain seasons. For example, I first heard Ray LaMontagne’s debut album, Trouble, while sipping cider in front of a fireplace one winter evening. Because of that cozy listening session, I will forever associate his music with cool weather. It’s been a long time since a debut album offered that same level of warmth. Albums like that – the kind that make you want to put your life on pause while you curl up with a beverage and lose yourself in its melodies – don’t come around every day.
Last week, an emerging Americana band released just such an album. It’s been on repeat ever since. If you’re a fan of soul-stirring indie folk, you need to know Young Frontier.
Young Frontier hail from New England (Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire), so they’re well-acquainted with cooler weather and fireplace warmth. Their music will appeal to fans of harmony-centered modern Americana groups (The Head & The Heart, The Lumineers) for obvious reasons. Their crystalline harmonies will take your breath away. It won’t be long until the world falls in love with this band and their sound. Here are five of our favorite tracks from the album.
RIYL: The Head & The Heart, The Lumineers, The Civil Wars, Mandolin Orange, Jason Isbell
“Don’t Let The Cold In”
The simplicity of intertwined voices accompanied by an acoustic guitar is a successful formula used by The Civil Wars as well as The Head and The Heart. The same approach is used here, only it’s anything but formulaic. While listening to “Don’t Let the Cold In”, it’s easy to picture yourself cuddled on a winter’s night with someone you love. Their three-part a cappella harmonies will warm you better than any whiskey.
Consider “Waltz” to be three minutes of therapy in a three-four time signature. A song this relaxing could be prescribed for stress relief, because it’s just that effective. The pairing of lead singer Joe Young’s rich vocals (especially his soaring falsetto that channels Jeff Buckley towards the end) with Bethany Weiman’s languid cello makes the final 30 seconds downright euphoric. In fact, we dare you not to feel like you’ve almost fainted. Play this one when you need to unburden your troubled mind. If any song could waltz your worries right out the door, it’s this one.
“Interlude” calls to mind the peacefulness that accompanies the winter’s first snowfall. It’s amazing how something as delicate as snowflakes can freeze your focus, causing you to stop and marvel. This instrumental song has that same effect: beautifully sparse and brief at only 91 seconds, the delicate cello serenades you into a tranquil moment of calm.
The tranquility of the previous song provides a natural segue into the shining indie folk goodness that’s on full display in “Garden”. If the album’s earlier tracks seem ideal for cooler days, then this is its summer evening counterpart. It builds at a leisurely pace to reveal a bolder, electric guitar-driven sound at the bridge, but it never rushes to display that boldness. Like a summer sunset, it shines brightly before it gradually fades, leaving you basking in its radiant glow.
“Waste of My Time”
The most country-leaning song in the bunch, “Waste of My Time” sounds like it could belong on a Jason Isbell album. This tale of romantic 20/20 hindsight incorporates the best elements of Americana: relatable verses, an easily sung chorus, slightly mournful minor-key riffs that tug at your heartstrings, and more of those tight harmonies this group does so well. Surely the lyrics “Losing’s all I ever seem to do these days” are fiction, because there’s not a losing song on this entire album.
Young Frontier’s self-titled debut album released July 15. It is available for purchase on iTunes and is streaming at their Soundcloud page. Fans in the Boston area can see them this Wednesday at their event in Cambridge. They’re playing with another favorite of The Revue, the Washington state indie folk duo, Planes on Paper.
Young Frontier are: Joe Young (vocals, acoustic guitar), Bethany Weiman (vocals, cello), and Daniel King (vocals, electric guitar), with additional support from Craig Weiman (bass), Mike Effenberger (organ), and Mike Connors (drums, percussion).
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