by Charles Hoyt (@charlie_ben_h)
Philadelphia’s Left & Right (composed of Phil Dameron, Daniel Merchant, Andrew Abbot, and Zak Krone) released a new album entitled The Yips in mid-September on Warhen Records. Left & Right use plenty of distortion effects on this new record and are not afraid to change up the dynamics and tempo mid-song; with these effects and musical changes within their songs, I find their sound to be reminiscent of Pavement, Ovlov, and Built to Spill. The Yips is a slightly fickle rock album, with some songs loud and full of heavy distortion, while other songs are quieter and with other effects thrown in. That being said, the whole album sounds and feels like a record from the 90’s.
The opening track, “Mouse Drum,” instantly reminds me of something that Stephen Malkmus of Pavement would write. It has surreal and somewhat incoherent lyrics and the way the singer sings it is different and fun to listen to. This song has some of my favorite lyrics on the album: “Margaret Thatcher bought a Stratocaster/ played it/ made it/ rose to greatness.” I’m a big fan of the internal rhyme scheme on this track and I think the lyrics definitely add some humor to this song. This is one of my favorite songs on the record because of the amusing lyrics and excellent instrumentation.
Other songs on this album really show off the band’s musical talent, whether it is the main instrumental parts on the track or little additions added here and there. On tracks such as “Sleep Show,” and “Grump,” Left & Right make excellent use of dynamic changes, resulting in the songs sounding like they’re gaining power. Other little additions help make the songs sound bigger, like the backing vocals by Kiana Saroce on "Night Owl" and "Anne's Revenge,", and piano on "Sleep Show". The effects being used on the songs “Coin Collector” and “The Cloud” remind me of songs off Ovlov’s 2013 release am. The little guitar riffs on top of rhythm guitar on tracks “Hotel Vegas” and the closing track, “Snarl” evoke sounds reminiscent of the Perfect from Now On-era Built to Spill. Although Left & Right wear their inspiration on their sleeves, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The band takes musical ideas from bands like Built to Spill and Pavement, and makes it their own with loud distortion and exciting guitar solos.
The Yips by Left & Right is an album of great rock tracks reminiscent of 90’s indie rock. The loud distortion effects and intricate lyrics on these songs make this a fun record to listen to when I come home from a long day at work or school. It has moments of loud, heavy rock songs, which ease the pain of having a rough day. The Yips also has quieter songs that would help me wind down from the long day. Some of my favorite tracks on this record are “Mouse Drum”, “Sleep Song,” and “Hotel Vegas”. With sounds similar to those of some of my favorite bands, Left & Right made a fantastic rock record. After listening to Left & Right’s new album many times, it has become one of my favorite releases of 2016 so far.