Yuck Is Back With A New Song And A New Frontman

Yuck is set to release its sophomore album this fall. (Photo: Chris Coady\courtesy of the artist)
Yuck is set to release its sophomore album this fall. (Photo: Chris Coadycourtesy of the artist)

My favorite new band of 2011 was Yuck, a grungy ’90s-leaning band with members far too young to have experienced that music the first time around. Yet the band’s fraying distortion and hooky, guitar-driven melodies on songs like “Georgia,” “The Wall” and especially the droning noisy freakout “Rubber” made it clear the band has that era’s music down pat. In 2011 alone, I caught the band FOUR times — twice at South By Southwest and twice at the Black Cat in D.C.

After some time off, Yuck recently announced it parted ways with frontman Daniel Blumberg — who has gone on to pursue his solo project Hebronix. It was odd news. Blumberg may have been something of an introverted persona on stage, content to hunch over his pedals, his mop of curly hair hanging below his eyes, or face inward towards his amp as he created swirls of feedback and static. But his musical voice and angsty songwriting — not to mention the scribbled hand-drawn illustrations that served as the album covers for the record and various 7″ singles — were so key to the Yuck’s aesthetic.

Yucks Daniel Blumberg performing at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. on May 6, 2011.
Yuck's Daniel Blumberg performing at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. on May 6, 2011. (© Michael Katzif - Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

Honestly — and no slight to the other three members, guitarist Max Bloom, bassist Mariko Doi, and the afro’d drummer Jonny Rogoff — it was hard to imagine the band without Blumberg.

Still, Yuck band is carrying on. The band is set to release its new album later this year — produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Smith Westerns) — and with its first single “Rebirth,” we’re now getting a sense of what this new iteration of Yuck might sound like.

“Rebirth” features Bloom taking on the frontman role on vocals, and his voice is awash in hazy reverb. And the song is more dreamlike, at least compared to the full-throttled grunge pop and distortion-fueled shoegaze on the Yuck’s killer self-titled debut. While it may not have the “so-loud-it-hurts” power of “Rubber,” this song’s textures are signs that Yuck is growing in instrumental scope. And Bloom and the band are still capable of crafting songs with a defined mood and excellent melodies.

Few bands survive after essentially losing their head like Yuck has, but it also presents an opportunity for reinvention. As the title suggests, “Rebirth” is a clear line in the sand between the old and new. So with Bloom at the helm, it should be interesting to hear what Yuck has in store both with the full record and its live show.

Yucks Max Bloom performs at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. on May 6, 2011. (© Michael Katzif - Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Yuck's Max Bloom performs at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. on May 6, 2011. (© Michael Katzif - Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

UPDATE 8/14: Yuck has officially announced its second album, Glow & Behold, will be out on Oct 1. on Fat Possum. And the band has offered another new single, “Middle Sea,” that feels a bit closer to the grungier power pop of its first release. Can’t wait to hear the whole thing!

Favorite Album Art Of 2011

I spend a lot of time listening to music throughout the year, making my lists of favorite records, the best songs and so on and on. But in the process I cannot help but look at and think about the album artwork and how that accompanies this music. Increasingly, in this digital age, album art is relegated often to postage stamp-sized icons on our screens and iPhones, already downsizing from the pretty small size of CDs. Maybe people do not think about album covers as much, yet I still love to stare over them like I did as a kid. And I still tend to buy albums in LP format because I like seeing that cover nice and big.

In lieu of a best albums of the year list, I decided to curate this list of my favorite album covers of the year. Below is but a sampling of some of the excellent artwork from 2011, some of which point to a few of the thematic trends in imagery, typography, illustration and intricacy.

Yuck Prepares Me For My SXSW ‘Get Away’

We are less than a week away from South By Southwest and I am getting pumped. I’ll be there for the first time with NPR Music producing concerts, including some of my favorites of 2011: James Blake, Smith Westerns, Yuck, Raphael Saadiq, Colin Stetson, tUnE-yArDs, The Joy Formidable, The Antlers, WILD FLAG, Khaira Arby, Bright Eyes, Kurt Vile and a few more. I’ll also be filming a crapload of videos that we will shoot down there in the style of our Tiny Desk Concerts series.

And then in my not-so-copious free time I shall be trying to see as many bands as I can jampack in. Among the bands I’m most excited to see is my hands down favorite new-ish act of 2011, Yuck. My love has been well-documented both here and at NPR Music. So pardon me as I continue with my plugging. They just put out a cool video for their opening track “Get Away” and it’s, um, pretty cool. Also somewhat NSFW, so there’s that.

Yuck’s New NSFW Video ‘Holing Out’

…But also a pretty great music video. I like how it takes on this B-movie, grindhouse horror movie vibe. But yes, just like their last video for “Rubber,” “Holing Out” definitely has some nudity and, in this case, some blood and gore.

Yuck has pretty quickly become my favorite new band of 2011, which can be seen in action in my Song of the Day review on NPR Music.

More videos after the jump…

Best Song I’ve Heard All Day — Early 2011 Favorite

(part 943 in a 1001 part series)

I’ve only just now gotten around to listening to this band Yuck this weekend after their debut album came across my desk this past week. But wow… I think I might have a new favorite for 2011 and the year hasn’t even started yet.

This song “Rubber” in particular grabs immediately with some of the beefiest shoegazer distortion I’ve heard this side of black metal and ’90s grunge. But once you get into its melodic trance, it becomes so cathartic. The band can be powerful poppy garage rock or they can be sweetly melancholy and minimal. Mark my words, this band will be one the interblogs will be talking about this year — at least until some sort of backlash happens. But enjoy it while you can.

Check out their weird and pretty gross at times, yet strangely beautiful (and NSFW) video for “Rubber.” Beware, it has both a nude woman and extreme closeups of dogs getting washed and groomed. Do what you will with that information.

Yuck – Rubber from Yuck on Vimeo.

More videos after the jump