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Monday, June 11, 2007

Young Galaxy: "Young Galaxy"

Fronted by ex-Stars member Stephen Ramsay and his significant other Catherine McCandless, Young Galaxy is one of the latest indie acts to come from the consistently amazing Arts & Crafts label. In the band's debut LP, Young Galaxy creates a truly cosmic/spacey sound that lends itself perfectly to their name. While clearly drawing from influences in the classic rock genre, the band also seems to fall into the trap of relying too heavily on what is now an overused and extraordinarily basic indie rock sound. The result is an album that proves the band to be a talented group of individuals, but also one that hasn't quite hit their stride just yet.

Young Galaxy's debut, self-titled LP begins with what is arguably the strongest song on the album, "Swing Your Heartache." The song is an agonizing and bleak meditation on the life, filled with such "uplifting" lyrics as "We believe in time that you will see the frontier is misery." Though the song may falter a bit during the uninspired and cliche-ridden bridge, hearing the band harmonize "Come on babe, swing your heartache" never really gets old, even once the song crosses the 6-minute mark.

"No Matter How Hard You Try" is a largely-incomprehensible song with layer upon layer of instrumentation that at times can seem a bit overpowering. The vocals seem buried under everything else going on, and the song ultimately fails because of it. On the contrary, "Lazy Religion" is almost minimalistic in comparison. The song features airy guitars, synths, and pianos that bring out the vocals. A subtle harmony is utilized throughout the song that's particularly potent when the chorus rolls around ("I don't mind. Take what you want. It's a lazy religion"). The song is another high note for the album.

Unfortunately for Young Galaxy and those who will listen to this album, "Young Galaxy" features more lows than highs. The major flaw of the album is it's lack of "Wow" moments. The lyrics here are rarely poignant or meaningful, the music is utterly bland throughout, often sounding like a mix of every other so-so indie band out there today! I've listened to "Young Galxay" several times through and each time I walk away completely unaffected, unmoved, and entirely disappointed. Young Galaxy has talent, as clearly demonstrated in "Swing Your Heartache" and a few others on the album, but for a band on the Arts & Crafts label, my expectations were not met. "Young Galaxy" is a respectable first effort, but in the end it is still a disappointment.

Recommended for anyone interested in checking out a talented band with a bright future ahead of them, even if this album may contradict such a statement.

Key Tracks:
1. "Swing Your Heartache"
2. "Lazy Religion"
3. "Sun's Coming Up and My Plane's Going Down"
4. "Embers"

5 out of 10 Stars

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