Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Young and the Naive - II

The Young and the Naive is one of those bands that makes you realize how bad you probably were at writing songs when you were their age.  I don't officially know how old they were when this was recorded but I would imagine the trio was under the age of 20 all around.  Consisting of a compositionally minded pianist with brutally honest and relatable lyrics, an exceptional fingerpicking guitar player with an ear for what made the Velvet Underground so good, and a vocalist with a voice as unique and beautiful as the snow capped Rockies which birthed this nugget of musical genius.  This band was wise beyond their years and it shows immensely from the meticulously arranged vocal harmonies to the intelligently executed baroque-indie sound that oozes through on most tracks.  "Sticks and Stones" is also a standout track for me, sounding much like Dylan picking along to 19 year old singing his heart out about the weight of the realizations of the human condition.  I remember seeing the band play the opening track, "Big Rock," before this came out.  I was accustomed to the band being centered around the piano and acoustic guitar so this heavy drone rock song coming at me was about the coolest leap I could imagine these folks taking.  I talked with Gabe about the song after the set and complimented him on it.  I could be wrong, but I think he said something about how he had recently learned that Lou Reed had tuned all of his guitar strings to D for a song and he wanted to emulate that.  I felt so ashamed that when I was Gabe's age I would have had no idea who Lou Reed was, let alone be influenced by him.

The self fulfilling nature of the band's name kind of sums up the whole experience for me.  They couldn't have been THAT naive to name themselves something so obvious, but the fact that something so powerfully honest and moving was being made by kids still in high school gave me some sort of renewed hope for humanity.  Sure Minor Threat were high schoolers and plenty of great punk rock was born that way, but rarely do people that age have such a well tuned ear for what makes a great composition and the ability to execute those ideas in such a unique way as this.

Lil' Slugger - Super Sweethearts: The Complete Lil' Slugger

Despite my rampant drunkeness at the time, I still recall my first Lil' Slugger show in Greeley, Colorado years ago.  It was at a wonderfully named bar called the Stagger inn.  I knew of Lil' Slugger prior to seeing them because my long time friend Zach was currently recording them in his studio.  I was good and goosed before we even got to the show (which probably enhanced the fun I had during their set) but I also knew that these guys were fucking good.  I was dancing like a fool for most of the time and the band seemed to enjoy it but they must have thought I was some drunk idiot that Zach dragged in.  In any case, my band at the time got to be real good buddies with Lil' SLugger and we played many-a-shows together on the Front Range.  I have said this before and still stand by it that Lil' Slugger is my favorite band from Colorado.  Or at least during the time I lived there.  The fuct-up, angular, drum heavy, riffing rock/pop filtered through a bizarre lens of kaleidoscopic noise made me happy every time I saw them perform.  I really feel like I got to watch them progress as a band, too.  The compositions and riffs got more complex as time went on.  The members were so unique as individual musicians (and people) and when they played together it was pure chemistry.

This a collection of songs from their self-recorded first album, "Sweethearts of the Overthrow" as well as some other great studio takes of songs that were featured on a split with my band at the time.  "Do The Rabid" is their anthem.  That song will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Below is a weird video of the song being performed live by Lil Slugger and members of The Good Old Fashioned Sinners (yours truly on sax).  I absolutely loved how this song culminated in Ben just chucking cymbals at an old metal cone of some sort while Joey wildly fucked with the standard formula for a "doo wop" song.  Lil' Slugger and The Good Old Fashioned Sinners were definitely cut from some similar cloth.  The "band-buddy" relationship we had was an excellent one.

Lil' Slugger went the way of most great bands and is no more, sadly.  You can check out Ben and Joey's new projects here and here, respectively.   There is, indeed, an unreleased Slugger album currently in the mixing process.  I have been lucky enough to hear a couple tracks off of it and I can say that as good as this compilation is, the new album will blow anything on here out of the water.  It showcases the band at the peak of their songwriting and their sound is well dialed in by that point.  The world holds its breath.  For now, here ya go sweethearts.