Release Date: May 13, 2016
Record label: Kobalt
Sleaze, sludge and scuzz rule the roost on Yak’s debut album. But to put their magic down to three vital ingredients would be missing the point. With Oliver Burslem at the helm, the trio have a whirlwind chemistry it’d takes other bands decades to master. And with ‘Alas Salvation’, they’ve set a marker for every borderline-insane newcomer emerging in the next decade.
I tend to see rock as a big, clan-like family. At this point, I don't think that anyone has any illusions of actually creating something completely new within the genre, so the true artistry of rock is becoming more and more about the admiration for what some artists can do with the infinite pieces they have collected throughout the years from numerous sources, either related to their own style or not. In a way, it somehow illustrates Jean-François Lyotard's Post-Modernism theories; we increasingly tend to briefly approach styles, variants, and ideas, without ever exploring them further, and mixing them in a way that originates new combinations, with the true originality coming from those same combinations and not from the ideas themselves.
It can sometimes be hard to feel optimistic about rowdy, new guitar music. So much sounds grubby and calculated, grabbing at the receding coat-tails of past fads. And then you come across a band like Yak, a three-piece whose live shows are a force of nature, and whose debut album is barely less than that. Credit must go to producer Steve Mackey, who captures the sense of a band whose instruments sound almost as if they’re playing themselves.
This time last year Yak were a little-known hype band, riding the small wave of the success their first few singles on Fat Possum Records brought. They managed to attract a few hundred fans into their feral Field Day set who stood in awe or bewilderment as frontman Oli Burslem acted like somebody with ADHD on a Hunter S Thompson-style chemical trip.The Stooges-esque band with supremely well played punchy fuzz laden bass, distorted guitar, and heavy drum grooves made for the perfect accompaniment to go wild. Now, they've become one of the most in-demand new bands in the UK.
Yak has built a reputation as a thrilling, unpredictable live band prone to throwing guitars crowdward during feedback-squelched noise pileups..
It’s practically impossible to guess what’s coming next on this debut full-length by London trio Yak. Each of its 13 songs act like magnets in opposition to each other, and as such this album careens from raw, blistering punk with a Sex Pistols edge (National Anthem) to fuzzy, slacker rock’n’roll (Hungry Heart – not the Springsteen song) to confrontational, stream-of-consciousness, Patti Smith-esque punk poetry (Use Somebody). And that’s just the first three songs.
If you’re already in the know about London-based rock trio Yak, it will almost certainly be because of their gut-churning live shows. During their anarchic noiseathons they used to throw instruments crowdwards. For a recent tour with The Last Shadow Puppets they cut down on the physical missiles, but that sense of danger still hangs heavy over their nuclear debut, ‘Alas Salvation’.Opener ‘Victorious (National Anthem)’ is all anyone needs to get excited about Yak: an earth-shaking and punky pastiche of ‘Rule Britannia’.
The month of May certainly didn't overwhelm Carl and I as much as last month did, but it was still chock-full with important releases to whet our appetites until the summer begins. Carl was also significantly more generous - though he's completely enamored by James Blake's winning streak, I ….