Monday, October 22, 2018

Yam Haus - Stargazer (2018)

Written by Daniel Boyer, posted by blog admin

Originally from Wisconsin, the four piece pop rock band Yam Haus is rapidly becoming one of the most promising units working on the traditionally thriving Minnesota music scene thanks to their remarkably mature songwriting and effervescent performances. Their full length album Stargazer kicks off their attempt to reach a worldwide audience with immense stylishness and a clear sense of design far outstripping their contemporaries. The title track begins the release with a swirl of synthesizer lines gradually incorporating guitar into the mix before it takes a sharp turn into the first verse. Slashing guitar chords burn through the first verse before the band segues back into the quicksilver melodicism of the introduction. This opening and title cut provides us with an early opportunity to define the band’s style – they mix lively guitar textures with an often glistening electronic sweep.

Lead singer and guitarist Lars Pruitt has a pure, unvarnished quality to his voice while obviously exhibiting the ideal chops for this sort of material. He has enough oomph in his voice to give the songwriting immediacy, but he likewise carries the more melodic aspects of the band’s songs with effortless pop panache. The second song “West Coast” shows that in abundance. It has a similar structure to the first song in the way it begins with a brief synthesizer fanfare, but the verses and chorus are constitute the bulk of one of Stargazer’s marquee gems. The track is exceptional as it stands, but Pruitt’s vocal melody propels it to stratospheric heights of quality. The smooth, gliding feel of the song will enchant many listeners from their first listen.

“Kingdom” brings acoustic guitar into the mix, a possible hint to its origins as a song, but it boasts a stronger Eighties influence than anything else we’ve heard at this point. Don’t let that claim be misleading, however, as it isn’t a dominating element of the track. Instead, “Kingdom” mixes a near singer/songwriter sensibility with Yam Haus’ distinctive pop sound. It’s bold and expansive from the first. The same bright, positive veneer defining the earlier material continues with the song “Get Somewhere” and guitar brings nice ornamental touches around the chorus. The payoff moment for the song and accompanying backing vocals put an emphatic exclamation point on the song’s radio potential.

“Right Now, Forever” begins with the sound of early 20th century jazz seemingly piped through an old fashioned radio set before transforming into a delicate acoustic based number. There are some discreet piano touches scattered throughout the release and Ian Pruitt’s vocal strikes an appropriately soulful note. “Carry Me Home” opens with a gentle blossoming flourish built largely around Pruitt’s voice and synthesizer lines. The band comes in gradually, allowing tension to develop rather than exploiting the song’s possibilities in one fell swoop, and it has a tremendous effect. The full realized qualities of Yam Haus’ Stargazer are a rare accomplishment at this late date in pop music’s history and they are clearly poised at a remarkably early age to leave an indelible mark on modern music.