Unchained Music Blog

Unchained Music Blog

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Yam Haus - Stargazer (2018)

Written by David Shouse, posted by blog admin

Yam Haus began playing together during their high school days and the four piece, hailing from Wisconsin, has since relocated to Minneapolis in an attempt to discover a more visible platform for their burgeoning musical ambitions. Their debut album Stargazer is a varied, fully realized collection that should easily put them near the forefront of the indie scene and promises to give them a foothold on the mainstream scene. The album opens with its title cut and the mix of synthesizer sounds with bright, snappy guitar lines. It’s a a recurring musical motif for Yam Haus and few of the songs on the release equal the level they reach straight out of the gate.

“West Coast” and “Kingdom” explore that sound even more thoroughly. Yam Haus never intend to remake the songwriting wheel; much of the album’s writing concerns itself with interpersonal relationships. However, they deliver the subject matter with such stylishness and a personal touch elevating the material several notches. Naturally, there’s a strong pop influence running through these songs, but it blends well with their two guitar sound courtesy of lead singer Lars Pruitt and second guitarist Seth Blum. The nuanced interplay between the rhythm section of bassist Zach Beinlich and drummer Jake Felstow is another crucial piece of the band’s musical puzzle that makes this opening trio fly.

“Too Many People” has a surprising gospel influence, a sound that the opening songs never indicate is coming, but they sound perfectly at home navigating through the song’s affectations. The different keyboard sound they bring to bear with this track is the song’s crowning touch. They take a sharp stylistic turn with the track “Right Now, Forever” and the acoustic musicality of the song stands in marked contrast to the band’s pop inclinations. Once again, however, they never sound uncomfortable with this and give us an intimate, considered performance ranking among the album’s best.

Synthesizers regain prominence in the mix with the track “Bad News”, but the most compelling part of this song is the vocal melody and Lars Pruitt does an excellent job getting under the skin of the cut thanks to his superb phrasing. “Carry Me Home” has a dream-like lightness of touch and wafts by listeners on the back of glistening synthesizer lines and Pruitt’s sensitive vocal rendition. Yam Haus won’t soon be confused with a hard rock act or anything of that ilk, but they turn in a resounding guitar-centric performance with the song “We Are the Storm” and sound quite convincing moving guitar to the fore.

The finale “Something Better” isn’t an exclusively acoustic tune and the synthesizer adornments add a lot of color to the composition. It’s a meditative, intelligent closer to Stargazer that underlines the band’s diversity while reaffirming their core strengths. It, likewise, points the way towards a future for the band where obviously all things are possible. Yam Haus possess all the tools to stick around for years to come and the ride will undoubtedly be entertaining.