Blue Robot

Artist to Watch: Young the Giant

Posted by Matt D'Ippolito on 02/07 at 10:00 AM

Indie rockers Young the Giant might not have made MTV’s list of artists to watch in 2012, but after making waves with their debut album in 2010 and a new one in the works, they’re definitely one of industry’s rising stars. Some Penn State students have even speculated the band might be one of Movin’ On‘s 2012 headliners, having been present on the festival’s surveys last semester.

The band was formed as The Jakes in 2004 by a group of high school and college friends in Irvine, Calif. After several personnel changes the group settled into its current lineup and changed its name to Young the Giant. Band members include vocalist Sameer Gadhia, guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata, bassist Payam Doostzadeh and drummer Francois Cumtois.

The band has received much attention for their eponymous first album, particularly the hit singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.”

My Body” is characteristic of the band’s style, with a driving, heavy beat and a catchy melody. The rhythm is sometimes swung, especially in the verses. The bass drum is particularly noticable, even when the plucky guitars turn noisy in the chorus. As soon as the chorus hits, Gadhia’s wails turn to shouts of “my Body tells me no, but I won’t quit / cause I want more.” The guitars rise to prominence in the bridge before backing off and giving the spotlight back to the vocals, which lead the song back into the final rendition of the chorus.

The band’s other major hit, “Cough Syrup,” begins much softer with a solo guitar that sounds like it could be setting the mood for an old country-western song out of Memphis. It is quickly joined by a low cello stroke with the other guitar, bass and drums slipping in soon after. The vocals keep the low-key, watery feel (which is further expressed by the music video, which takes place with synchronized swimmers in a natatorium) until the instrumentalists vamp up into the chorus, when everyone totally rocks out.

Young the Giant has a very fun, rocking-out style that makes listeners want to bob their heads. It’s this style in their music that has won them praise from critics, with Amazon.com naming their debut the third best album of 2010. MTV has featured them as an artist of the week in July 2011. The young rockers have also spent the last two years touring with the likes of Minus the Bear and Incubus. And it doesn’t look like they plan on stopping anytime soon.

In a recent interview with Paste Magazine, Gadhia said the band is in the midst of working on their second album, saying it is being heavily influenced by their time touring. He also said the band members want to pinpoint the exact sound they want, and that this album will be more of a collaborative effort, while sticking to the live show sound they strove for in the first album.

The one criticism that can be applied to their style on the first album was that the structure of some of the songs was a bit formulaic. But that’s something that can be easily fixed on their followup and something that far bigger artists are guilty of as well.

With a sound that emulates early hard rock with a modern twist, a second album in the works and experience and fame gained from spending so much time on the road, Young the Giant is definitely going to be a band to keep an eye on this year. And it’s always fun to root for promising artists that Pitchfork loves to hate.

{name} Author: Matt D'Ippolito
Bio: Matthew D’Ippolito is currently a senior majoring in print journalism at Penn State with minors in political science and music technology. He plans on writing for Rolling Stone or Variety one day. Matt enjoys reading, playing sax, hiking and fishing. He enjoys a wide variety of music, but some favorites are punk, indie rock, classic rock, dubstep, jazz and classical. His favorite bands at the moment are Titus Andronicus, Streetlight Manifesto, Cloud Cult, Explosions in the Sky and ZOX.

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