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.
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.
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!