Young Livers was a band I came across a few years ago and completely fell in love with. Their MySpace “Sounds Like” section read “thrash at rock tempo” for years and it’s just about dead on. If you need to get all nerdy with terms…maybe it’s this groove heavy, dark, scream-laden, metallic rock with post-punk sensibilities chock full of starts, stops and rhythm changes. Above and beyond all the clever term crafting, it just grabbed me right away, which is to say that even a jaded old punk rocker like myself could find something fresh and new in this quartet of 20-somethings. It’s funny that I always thought they sounded sort of like Glass & Ashes…only later to find out they had in fact shared a member in guitarist Dave Hall.
Their first EP didn’t exactly make waves, but their first full-length on No Idea Records’ The New Drop Era was a breath of fresh air in the Gainesville, FL music scene. Young Livers had quickly made a name and a unique sound for themselves, both of which are harder to do than most people would imagine. But, the final twist came after Glass & Ashes disbanded when bassist/vocalist Michael Carter became a commuting member of Young Livers, flying in from California whenever YL gets together. So for the past two years, the evidence of Michael Carter’s influence on the band has been trickling out via live performances and 7″ splits. The band’s natural progression was accelerated with more layers of vocal opportunity, a heavier, more dynamic low end and another collaborator into the song writing process.
After weeks of over-listening, trying to make myself sick of this record, I can’t. Of Misery and Toil is one of the most important records this year. Not that it will be on the top of critics’ lists or even widely known right away, but sometimes the music world carries a collective consciousness; records will come out and change the soundscape with clear cut inspiration from one source to another. This is one of those records.
That having been said, this is also one of the most personal and emotional records I’ve ever heard. I’ve been through a never-ending cascade of issues for the past six months that even my closest friends don’t completely understand. These personal songs (and answering machine messages) of regret, despair, horror and misery resonate perfectly with every fiber of my being right now…it makes me feel less alone. Or more. I’m still not sure. Either way, I’ve got the soundtrack to my frame of mind and 2010 is always going to sound like this record to me. It’s hard to nail down a favorite song on the record. I can’t think of a song I don’t like, and that never happens. Ever. However, “All The Wretched” is my leading candidate for the top track.
It’s a hard, driving, diving, climbing song, with a rhythmic breakdown. It also carries possibly the best lyric ever: “(I) don’t want to die in bed…(I want to) go out the way we came in…kicking and screaming…kicking and screaming.”
Or possibly the best is “A Shortness Of Breath”, which is a fast paced, roller coaster of groove passing through blacked out tunnels of calm perspective. The final song could also be the definitive track as “Nothing But Teeth” closes the album with a seething ocean of guitars and waves of soundtrack quality emotional punk rock (I mean ala back-in-the-day when Fugazi was “emo”) that could equally bring one to their feet or to tears.