Thursday, July 3, 2014

Underground Youth Slams Sadovaya

Named after a street in Saint Petersburg where frontman Craig Dyer once lived with Olya Dyer (and where the album was written), Sadovaya is as the fourth lost gem to be released by The Underground Youth. The name of the album is also shared with a station on the Frunzensko-Primorkshaka line of the Saint Petersburg Metro, which is especially fitting given the nine-track lineup.

Most of the tracks are inspired by Russian novelists and poets. Craig Dyer was introduced to them — writers like Lermontov, Dostoyevsky, and Pushkin — at the same time he was listening to Soviet-era post-punk bands and taking in films produced by the Russian cinema. The result is visceral journey that is out of time as much as it is timeless.

"The sound of the album has a raw quality that I was never able to recreate," said Craig. "There's a genuine naivety to the recordings that makes it my most visceral, personal record."

Originally released by Fuzz Club Records with a mere 400 white vinyl copies and special edition 100 midnight blue copies, the limited edition offering sold out immediately. The gatefold cover and silkscreened artwork made the album as much a work of art as the music.

Although the Manchester poet band has expanded to become a four piece, the core work of Olya's driving beats and Craig's sparse and sometimes cryptic lyrics and guitar remain at the center. Simply put, they have come a long way since Craig started as one-man home project. And yet, the intricately psychedelic meanderings have never lost their authentic DIY attitude for DIY commercialization.

The mix is prefect too, drifting back and forth from the warm and soothing drench of the reverb of his hollow-body guitar to tracks that feel more mildly ferocious as they build into a noisy wall. It makes for some memorable shows, breaking a numb buzz into something that rocks at its core.

Morning Sun is one of the best tracks on the album as it almost captures an American fifties rock influence pushed through a Russian post-punk filter. It's a dizzyingly restrained number with the video alluding to both the mental and psychical duality of Russia. At the end, Olya contemplates whether she should live fast and die young with a meditative boredom. It's pitch perfect.

Morning Sun is the only the beginning of what amounts to the band's best album. Heart On A Chain keeps that later fifties Cold War spirit alive with contemplative doo-wop vocals that sound as if an old broadcast is being picked up from the past on a vacuum tube radio.

The lyrics are a love song of sorts. Craig dotes about his girl and the chain he wears for her. She might be out of reach, but her hold over him isn't. The track makes for an excellent setup of the American dream, a gangly and bangly percussion-driven odyssey as beautiful as it is ugly.

On The Floor carries on with the consistent transistor-like buzz overshadowed by Craig as he delivers a mesmerizingly lustful rocker. Revolution Revisited breaks in a different direction with a deeper, significantly more sorrowful tone to tell his folktale of change. Lost Recording brings to bear Craig's poetic undertones about love and acceptance within a murkiness that can be difficult to cut through.

Sadovaya, the title track, is an amazingly repetitive instrumental drone and the longest in the lineup. It conjures up blissful days that never seem to change or perhaps a moment frozen in time. It's monotonous, but not in a way you want it to end. The change of tempo once Art House Revisited starts up is all the more welcome. So is the acoustic rarity of Your Birthday Song, which is one of Craig's dreamy best.

Sadovaya By The Underground Youth Rivets 9.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

As far as reverb-heavy shoe gaze psychedelic rock goes, its hard to imagine anyone better. Craig Dyer an company have created something that transcends time, space and international boundaries. It's the kind of album that deserves a listen consisting of play, ponder, repeat. All day works.

You can find their earlier album, The Perfect Enemy for God, on Amazon or  download Sadovaya by The Underground Youth on iTunes. You can also find the album at Fuzz Club Records. For more information, look for them on Facebook.
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