I enjoy cooking; like most creatives, however, I hate to stick by the recipe. There’s a chemistry to piecing together a recipe that is very much like crafting a new song. The cook must take into account various elements, such as location. Water boils at different paces whether your in the rainy town of Seattle or the mile high city of Denver. Similarly, northwesterners have a different palate than, say, those in the southwest. All these elements must be taken into account when approaching a new recipe, which is merely a base of what the dish should include.
Take a simple breakfast dish like making pancakes from scratch. The recipe calls for x amount of sugar and y amount of flour. It says to combine the dry ingredients and wet ones separately — and don’t forget to mix before combining. But one and a half cups of flour is a bit too much, making for an uber dry breakfast. And two eggs don’t quite give it the flavor of three. But the process of molding the perfect recipe, taken loosely from that provided by someone else, takes time.
Music follows suit. No artist is without a slew of influences. But each person’s historical set of influences varies greatly from the next. Plush it out with a group featuring multiple individuals and that set of influences can be multiplied vastly; each band member draws from their favorite artists in varying levels ranging from light to heavy. Yeasayer (MySpace) is no different. Like most artists throughout the ages, there is little new here with the exception of just how the band combines their influences to create something that gives the effect of being incomparably fresh and uncommonly unique. Yet the influences are there.
The good news is that I’m not going to point them out, as so many tend to do — including myself. Too often this results in false expectations or even the desire to simply move on without giving it a second though, and that would be a travesty. Tunes like “Sunrise” and “2080” simply must be heard.
While it’s difficult to not delve too far into this sounds like… or blending this timeperiod with that influence… and various rambles on the disposition of the sounds, All Hour Cymbals provides the listener with a refreshing take on song-craft that may not exactly be new but, when combined just so, gives the appearance of being an unparalleled exception to the common recipe.
This review was originally published March 5, 2008 on the old version of FensePost. As of June 4, 2009, per the group’s recording blog, Yeasayer has taken a break from recording their follow-up to All Hour Cymbals to rehearse for a string of summer dates. Check out the Yeasayer Recording Blog for more up-to-date information on their pending release as time passes.
We Are Free [CD, 2007]
2. Wait For Summer
5. Ah, Weir
6. No Need To Worry
8. Wait For The Wintertime
11. Red Cave