Review Summary: Clean cut americana for the kids.
I really dislike categorizing bands through namedropping others. More often than not, it’s a hassle. With Yukon Blonde, it’s a pain. Their music is chock full of obvious influences and tributes, and to name them all would ultimately still leave readers with vague ideas of what they sound like. But you know what? We’ll call this an exercise in comprehension. You see, Yukon Blonde throw obvious nods in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s direction, as well as salutes of thanks to more contemporary artists like Fleet Foxes, though with a far more significant rock n roll focus more akin to Dr. Dog. Put a little Beatles into the pot, Fleetwood Mac too, and stir (any clearer?). Their self titled record is one that’s easy on the ears, light in its message, and transported from a time where the Beach Boys were still commercially successful and Phil Spector wasn’t quite bat-*** insane yet (as far as he would admit).
Yes, Yukon Blonde’s sound owes a lot to a generation they weren’t even alive to see but moving past, well, the past, their self-titled owes even more to its production. It’s clean and crisp with a big emphasis on keeping the harmonies audible, giving the band a lot of space to fill in the background. While this highlights their strengths, it also gives us the first real indication of what this band is all about. As much as it’s an influence on their sound, Yukon Blonde don’t deal in the warbly old cowboy folk business. No, leave that to the grey-haired country fellers that your grandpappy listened to. This is folk rock cut for the kids.
This is best exemplified in the real selling point of the band; the vocals. Lead vocalist Jeff Innes puts in an excellent performance, harnessing a quality more clean-cut everyman than your typical husky-voiced folk rock vagabond. When it really packs a punch though is when the other two band members play their parts, adding falsetto layers and group yelps behind the smooth quality of Innes’ voice. The harmonies are plentiful and each as great as the other. “I would do anything you would do”, they sing on “Babies Don’t Like Blue Anymore” and as much as it is unashamedly Abbey Road-era Beatles, it’s heartfelt too.
Though much of the album feels decidedly old fashioned with that aforementioned current flair, the highlight of the album might come in a song that's remarkably more reminiscent of the far more contemporary Fleet Foxes. “Wind Blows” is easily the catchiest tune of the lot, with its vocal-arpeggio chorus resonating far beyond the songs four-minute playtime. It does emphasise that point again though; Yukon Blonde sound far more modern than the genre may suggest (David Crosby must be well into denture years) and though that may sound a bit obvious, as this wasn’t recorded in the 60s, there’s an edge to their music that gives them a little bit more oomph than the big genre names. Not to mention, Yukon Blonde are defiantly more electric than most of their influences and many of the songs showcase welcomed flourishes of bright guitar twiddling, like during the unexpected ending of “Trivial Fire” or the modest solo in “Brides Song”. Folk rock
It’s not anything you haven’t heard before but you get the sense that’s the point. So carve another notch into the folk-revival(-revival) belt. Yukon Blonde do what they do and they do it well, all of their clearly evident, easily identified, and at times far too obvious influences aside.