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  This Is What I Remember  
  The Youth Class  
  Dust Recordings  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

There is an old cliche which asks, "Will it play in Peoria?" I think this is supposed to indicate the need for urbanites to temper their artistic endeavors in order to appeal to the massive rural section of our population. I'm not going to go off on a Red State/Blue State rant, but this is all relevant anyway because The Youth Class are from Peoria. It's in southern Illinois, if you didn't know.

Anyway, if this band demonstrates what is normal out in the heartlands of our country, then things are better off than i would have thought. You see, The Youth Class are a harder rock band which fuses elements of Fugazi and Sonic Youth with a little bit of The Dismemberment Plan and maybe The Poster Children, and, oddly enough, a dash of Red House Painters. (Yes, really.) I guess you could call this classic Emo. It features lots of guitars, thundering rhythms, occasional screaming, and sometimes odd chord/time signature changes.

The music works as a whole, and although there are no real stinkers on the album, let me discuss the high points that The Youth Class hit in their 32 minutes of This Is What I Remember.

The album starts off with a grinding guitar line and the band chanting, "I hate this / fucking / summer" before the drums kick in, and they tear off into a rocking tune. Well, actually, what they might hate is this darned "suburb". Sometimes when i listen it sounds like "suburb", but mostly it sounds like "summer", and perhaps i am just superimposing my own disaffection with the long commute i have onto these people. Either way, it's a good song.

After that intro, The Youth Class tear it up for a few minutes, screaming and beating the tar out of their instruments. Then they take it down a notch for Kelly Warner, in which the guitars are slower and the pace is more ponderous. The vocalist actually sings here, rather than just bellowing out his lyrics, and this is a rather pleasant song.

The next tune, Bloodlines, is slightly faster and seems really poppy. I think that perhaps a different vocalist is singing this song, and this guy has a really nice voice. This is a happy little song, with a guitar part in the bridge that sounds like something Jim Wilbur of Superchunk might have done. Good stuff.

The next song is simply titled ---, and this is more of an ambient piece. It starts with the sounds of crickets, and then you hear a throbbing beat that sounds very far off, as if you are moving through a field towards a rave, or perhaps a Deadhead drum circle. Well, eventually you get there, and the song descends into a brief drum solo. I like the strange intro much better than the actual drum solo. (Note: John Bonham effectively killed the drum solo as a viable song option with Moby Dick on Led Zeppelin II.) Eventually the rest of the band shows up and they go into a brief Sonic Youth-y guitar freakout.

The next truly notable point is the final song on the album, No More Scary Dreams. Strange effected guitar sounds noodle around for a bit before exploding. The song starts kinda shoegazery, and then gets very distorted. This is actually a damned fine song.

Overall, i gotta admit, if this is the music coming out of the Corn Belt these days, our country must be in pretty good shape, culturally speaking. Better than it seems to be from my wasteland perspective in Cobb County, GA.

The Youth Class have some talent, and despite a few missteps they have presented a promising debut. I bet they are blistering in concert.

Related Links:

The website of The Youth Class.


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