Monday, September 27, 2010

Pete Yorn's Self-Titled Strikes The Right Chords

Pete YornIn 2001, Rolling Stone magazine named Pete Yorn one of the top ten artists to watch in 2001. We've been watching ever since.

Yorn moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Syracuse University, where he worked to attract a following at Cafe Largo. Columbia signed him in 1999, which led to musicforthemorningafter being released in 2001. He has been producing great records ever since, but its his newest effort that promises to open the next chapter in his career.

His newest album, Pete Yorn (PY), will be released tomorrow. It's his most powerful album to date and the driving influence is Black Francis (aka Frank Black, aka Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV). Black Francis produced the album, encouraging Yorn to give up the studio polish in favor of a raw and honest album released on the Vagrant Records label.

"Pete told me he wanted to better define himself as an artist," Black has said. "I think he just wanted to rock out. But as we headed down a path of realization I stripped him down a whole bunch. We battled in the best sort of way. I tried to get the session into a fearless and raw place…"

Precious Stone, which has been making the rounds since July, is the perfect opener to set the sound of the entire album. The magic can be found in its upbeat brush strokes matched up with bleak, rusty vocals that match the lyrics. (You can also download Precious Stone from Yorn's Website.

The lower-noted Rock Crowd, which has been rightly described as fan appreciation song, powers through like a muffled laboring engine. Velcro Shoes clearly has some Pixieish guitar licks on the front end, set against the youthful promise of possibilities, what can and could be. Paradise Cove I captures some of the rawest Yorn yet.

Add it up and Yorn has created one of the most complete and memorable releases in his career, leaning toward indie alternative rock and away from the poppy progressions of the past. The sound is captivating enough that some reviewers have said Yorn is finally earning his indie street cred. While the sentiment is there, Yorn had already earned his stripes.

Heck, earlier this year, he even released a rehearsal vid of "Don't Come Close" (not on this album, but part of his act). What made the video worth watching is that Marky Ramone (drums) and CJ Ramone (guitar) joined him for the jam session. The rehearsal was for a Johnny Ramone tribute concert. Check it out.

In playing down the discography, there aren't songs to skip. Even the couple that sound closer to his previous studio work don't make sense to skip (although Wheels seems too plodding). The album works as a whole, which is especially heartening given the slim selection of new material released over the last few weeks. Pete Yorn PY deserves plenty of play time in heavy rotation.

In fact, the pre-order makes sense because it includes a bonus song — Favorite Song (B-Side). The bonus song is a little more poppy than the rugged rhythms on the rest of the album, but you might regret not having it later.

Pete Yorn's Self-Titled LP PY Lands A 9.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

If Yorn self-titled this work to indicate a new direction after almost 10 years since his debut, we're all for it. It''s like night and day listening to the new music against his last effort produced with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes). While Don't Wanna Cry was worth a listen, the rest of the album was too pretty for its own good. This album is anything but, which is why we love it.

You can pre-order Pete Yorn, which will likely be called PY by fans, on iTunes. You can also find Pete Yorn on Amazon, but the Amazon LP doesn't include the pre-order bonus song.
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