If ever a band were to wear their influences firmly on their sleeves, in bright glowing colours that could be seen from miles away regardless of the weather conditions, then it would be the Young Leaves. It doesn't take long to ascertain what those influences are, either by listening to their music or by visiting their Facebook page, which unashamedly name-checks the bands that come to mind having placed the needle on this LP.
Some people are firmly against the revisiting of any sort of sound from the past as they constantly seek something new to listen to, and I occasionally hear something that has me bemoaning the idea that “This has been done before and by so many bands, so please move on.” On the other hand, though, you will sometimes listen to a band who are paying homage to a sound, a band or a genre and think, “Yes, this is a job well done.” I guess the problem is, it’s hard for the band to get that balance right and to make music that can sound as if it’s got something fresh to offer.
The Young Leaves, a trio from Massachusetts, get the job well done by sounding as if they really should have been playing alongside bands such as Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom and Jawbreaker, as well as all of the other indie rock bands that were popular way back in the mid-to-late 1980s. I liked a lot of that stuff back then but haven’t listened to many of the bands in a few years, so hearing Life Underneath is a really enjoyable experience. The one "modern" band that comes to mind when playing this is Dan Webb and the Spiders, and on looking at the Young Leaves’ Facebook page it’s no surprise to see these two bands playing together in the near future.
The songs have hooks aplenty, with the guitars based around that slightly fuzzed sound of yesteryear (I’m no guitar tech, so the myriad of guitar pedals that could possibly have been used here are beyond me) that has a warming quality to it—almost like someone wrapping their arms around you and immediately creating a glow inside that heats your body from the inside. Vocally, it’s really got a deep kind of J Mascis quality going on—again, one of the key elements that is able to warm the cockles of your heart when listening to this.
The quality is constant throughout and the band do a grand job of recreating and creating music like that many of us grew up listening to and that influenced many who heard it to take up arms themselves. Hats off to the Young Leaves and also to Drunken Sailor Records for releasing this fine piece of work (which features great cover art, too).
Rich Cocksedge/ Punknews.org