After seeing the story of London’s Black Plague and listening to some delightful classical music during Black Violet (see my previous post), I stopped at Schubas last night (Oct. 6) for a show by Australia’s Youth Group.
I’ve enjoyed Youth Group’s 2005 album Skeleton Jar and the group’s 2006 album Casino Twilight Dogs. Both are filled with smart, melodic tunes that stick in your head. At times, Youth Group verges on the sort of mellow indie pop played by groups like Death Cab For Cutie, but there’s also a quality to the guitar lines that reminds me more of ’60s psychedelic rock channeled through contemporary indie rock. I’m less familiar with Youth Group’s latest CD, The Night Is Ours, but those new songs sounded pretty good alongside the old ones on Tuesday night.
The heart of this band is the hirsute singer-guitarist Toby Martin, who has the sort of fine mellow voice that’s perfect for carrying an anthem like “Forever Young.” That voice also meshes well with the louder guitars on Youth Group songs. The band doesn’t reinvent its songs in concert, but it does play them with a sort of insistent intensity. Schubas was not sold out for these musicians who’d made the trip from Sydney, but the room filled up somewhat by the time Youth Group played, and the audience showed its appreciation for what it was hearing. (I just wish the band had played one of my favorite songs off their last album, “Sorry.”)
The first act of the show was the Wiitala Brothers, who were celebrating the release of a new CD. They sounded like a pretty solid rock duo, closing their set with a couple of nice, melodic ballads. Next up was Other Girls. Not surprisingly, Other Girls was actually four guys (following the trend of all-male bands like Girls and Women). They sounded an awful lot like other recent bands such as the Walkmen, with that style of strained singing, so I can’t say they were all that distinctive, but they won me over with their energy.