Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Youth Sounds Is A Dream Pop Pick

If anyone can appreciate the hardship and elation that comes with self-starting an indie pop band, it's Erika and Frederico Mejia. Playing mostly around the New Orleans area, the brother-sister duo have been trying to carve out their niche by crafting songs that alternate between indie folk rock and electro dream pop.

And while they know any aspiring indie artist can never be afraid to be different, there always seems to be some pressure to create something sellable, music that someone wants before you will ever be noticed. It doesn't always matter how good of an artist you are, someone else has to hear it too.

"It's no longer enough to be a band with an EP or album, or even playing gigs," said Frederico. "Even for us, I honestly believe what's holding us back is that one big song, writing that one song you just can't get out of your head."

While Youth Sounds may not have hit that one song that gets them signed, several come close. As Strangers Would and Smoke And Mirrors off their first EP and We're No One as well as Foolish Love off their second, Youth Sounds delivers delicate arrangements around a potentially explosive range. There is something here, especially within their indie roots.

"My favorite song from The Bit Parts EP is Smoke And Mirrors because it comes from a place where, in a relationship or anytime in your lifetime, no one really knows who you are," says Erika. "It takes a lot for a person to be vulnerable enough to set aside all the flair and proudly state 'This is who I am and you can like it or not, I don't care.'"

On Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow, Erika points toward We're No One. Not only does she enjoy singing the arrangement, but also the meaning of the song; That people are a collection of flaws and assets. Nobody can ever be perfect.

Hearing her talk about the songs, one almost gets the impression that she is the songwriter. Her deep connection to the material comes across so convincingly. It's her brother, a natural storyteller, whom Erika trusts to write songs that she can own as a performer, relate to, and deliver with sincerity.

"Although I do a majority of the writing, the end product is collaborative," says Frederico. "All of the musicians get a demo copy of the song and write their parts, which are then fine tuned during rehearsals."

Expect their next release to define the direction of the band.

It's at rehearsals when the band syncs their musical vision and pushes subtle nuances into the work, much like any family would. And they are a family. The balance of the band includes Adrian Frye, Taryn Mejia and recent addition Nicholos Mejia. Each of them lend differences in the direction the band could take.

Even two of Frederico's favorite songs, What It Is Like and You'll Be The Death Of Me, fall on opposite sides of the spectrum for him as a lyricist. The first is a contemplative look at relationships that end before they begin. The latter is about how people can push you away.

They are also very different from the songs Erika singled out, but that's what makes Youth Sounds so listenable. While there is an undeniable connection between Erika and Frederico, they see some things differently. Ask them how they fell into music, for example, and both will tell you a funny story about how their parents chose piano lessons so they could prove they were ready for the commitment, despite Erika wanting to learn violin and Frederico guitar.

"Frederico picked up the piano because he felt the love and passion for the instrument," says Erika. "I initially resisted, and felt more freedom and emotion through singing."

"I never practiced [the piano]. I honestly hated it," said Frederico. "Erika was the better pianist."

But that's where the innocent differences end. They are both quick to express gratitude to their parents for funding the lessons as long as they could. And then, when the family could no longer afford it, each pursued respective passions — Erika focused on singing while Frederico taught himself guitar, piano, and drums, perhaps as a songwriter more than a player.

Youth Sounds' Dual EPs Hits 4.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

There is something very right about Youth Sounds. And while I lean more to the indie flair of The Bit Parts, Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow includes some sharply thoughtful dream pop tracks. Most of the magic is in the lyrics and the vocals, but it's easy to hear that the instrumentals are coming into their own as they grow.

The real tell for this emerging band will likely come with their very next release. Their music video, Whatever Works, is about to be released. So are new songs for their upcoming LP. Look for it to be released soon, under the album name Favors.

For now, enjoy a few tracks from The Bit Parts and Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow on iTunes. You can also find The Bit Parts - EP on Amazon. Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow... can also be found there. Both sites will also likely carry Favors, which should reinforce the band's dream pop sound, with a bit more drums.
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