Monday, February 10, 2014

REVIEW: Dude York - Dehumanize

The music scene in tiny Walla Walla, Washington has gifted the music world two excellent bands recently.  One is Chastity Belt, whose No Regerts (no, that isn't a typo) was justifiably lauded last year.  Now it is the turn of another Walla Walla-to-Seattle transplant, and lablemate of Chastity Belt and Wimps at Seattle's Help Yourself Records, Dude York.  A trio consisting of Peter Richards (guitars/vocals), Claire England (bass/vocals) and Andrew Hall (drum/organ/piano), Dude York has been stoking our Pacific Northwest ears for several years, but with Dehumanize I think they deserve to earn a much larger audience.  This is the kind of band that shows up looking young, put together and maybe a bit bratty, but then blows away all the headliners.  With all the right influences, excellent musicianship and songwriting, and the ability to personalize it all into a positive and distinctive rock statement that, in my mind, makes them one of the two most exciting Seattle bands playing today.

The album opens with the punky, crunchy rock of "Sleepwalk".  No Seattle beard rock, pop or electro here. This track says welcome to our rocking world.  And just as expectations are set, the band lays down the infectious hooks and soulful groove of "Hesitate".  At this point, I'm two tracks in and I completely hooked.

Track three, "Iris", is a '60s AM radio throwback, with sugar-coated ooohhhs and aahhs on a garage rock skeleton.  "Idol" is a slick rock tune that begins with a disciplined rhythm and guitar frills that reminds of Fleetwood Mac, but audaciously adds a thumping rock chorus between the verses.  The ballad "Heartland" follows with a slower pace but red-line intensity.

"Burning" takes us back into enthusiastic rock territory.  A searing song, it reminds us of just how good Dude York is with their instruments.  Thematically, we may go back to middle school with "Eighth Grade", but musically this track continues the rock assault of the preceding tack.  At this point we may well be jumping up and down and pumping our fists.  But we don't tell anyone that because we need to be professional and objective.

Understandably, Dude York doesn't want us to forget their punk side, and with "Cannibal", forgetting just isn't possible -

"Believer" is a near perfect slice of upbeat rock.  You may well want to sing along, and I expect it will have you searching for local performances of the band.  Don't be embarrassed, I assure you that it is a natural reaction, and while I am not a doctor, I have seen the movie M*A*S*H numerous times.

And like a good book, Dehumanize pulls it all together on the final track, "Dehumanize Yourself and Face to Bloodshed".  Snaky grooves, slashing guitars, hooks and noise -- it is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

Dehumanize is out now on Seattle's Help Yourself Records.

Help Yourself Records

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