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Youth Group - Skeleton Jar (Cover Artwork)

Youth Group

Youth Group: Skeleton JarSkeleton Jar (2005)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 3


Contributed by: Tim-PunkInternationalTim-PunkInternational
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's pretty typical now on the front cover of a new CD to find a quote from a magazine or some sort of relevant person who hyped the band's music to the record label's liking. Youth Group's Epitaph debut Skeleton Jar has such a sticker, but since I see so many of these stickers between my job at a C.
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It's pretty typical now on the front cover of a new CD to find a quote from a magazine or some sort of relevant person who hyped the band's music to the record label's liking. Youth Group's Epitaph debut Skeleton Jar has such a sticker, but since I see so many of these stickers between my job at a CD store and this here CD review pile, I didn't even notice it. I put the CD on, and thought to myself, "this sounds like Death Cab For Cutie." So far, so good. Well, today I sit down to review the CD, and I begin taking a closer look at the liner notes and so on. Jumping out at me is the sticker on the front cover, a quote from none other than Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie telling me that if I don't love Youth Group, my heart is dead.

Well, isn't that a coincidence. Now, there's no other way I can approach Skeleton Jar than by holding them up to the Death Cab standard. In brief, I'd rather listen to Transatlanticism than this, but I'd take this over any of Death Cab's previous work. What feels wrong about all this is the fact that Epitaph bands are usually the standard-setters. Youth Group are firmly second class.

Second class or not, though, Skeleton Jar is some pretty solid stuff. From beginning to end, this album emits warmth and smart songwriting. There's a bit of a Weakerthans similarity in that regard, especially in the vocal style and on a jangly song like "Drowned." Where Youth Group still lag behind the heads of the class is in the pop sensibility department. They've got some hooks, but as a whole they aren't really convincing. Even the two most prominent tracks, "Shadowland" and "Skeleton Jar," are no real joy to sing along to. They're charming enough, but I'm not leaving with a strong impression.

It could very well be that this is one Epitaph band that's going to take an album or two to get really good. In the meantime, the best they can really do is hope they stand out as one of the better imitators.

[originally written for Punk International]

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (February 7, 2006)

i just knew them through the oc where they covered alphaville's forever young, and they did a LOT more better i think. i also listen to death cab but i don't particularly like their album so i can't wait to have this cd and see how the other songs fared.

Anonymous (July 15, 2005)

That's wierd I don't like Death Cab but I love this Youth Group cd. The Weakerthans are pretty much my favorite band though so maybe that connection is accurate though I don't see it myself. I originally only thought the cd was just alright but it gets better everytime I listen to it. Everytime I listen to the cd a new line gets stuck in my head. Right now I keep hearing "and I catch the train stand side-by-side why don't the buildings cry?"

Anonymous (June 27, 2005)

Youth Group aren't second rate Death Cab, they aren't second rate anything. Anybody who's ever hear heard a Death Cab record would realize this is obvious. Youth Group are a first rate original band with depth and substance and Skeleton Jar is a fucking masterpiece.

Cos (June 27, 2005)

"What feels wrong about all this is the fact that Epitaph bands are usually the standard-setters."

Epitaph hasn't had one of those in a long time, have they?

--Cos

Anonymous (June 26, 2005)

"The Larry Arms need no review. But it's really good. I love the lyrics to "Old Meixco Way"."

goddamn right, i had never heard afew songs on cocktails & dreams, mostly the stuff off the shady view terrace split, but goddamn, those are some excellent songs. larry arms make me piss myself with happiness. score is for cocktails & dreams.

tristan (June 26, 2005)

I want to like it, but this record is really boring. Maybe I'll feel differently in a couple of months but right now I'm feeling sleepy.

Anonymous (June 25, 2005)

Full wood.

chokingvictim (June 24, 2005)

Where's the fuckin' Larry Arms review?

------------------------------------------------------ --------------------

The Larry Arms need no review. But it's really good. I love the lyrics to "Old Meixco Way".

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

I like Shadowland, but I'm still undecided about the rest.

sethcohen (June 24, 2005)

On a side note, has anybody else noticed that the fourth song's bass line, drumming and the way toby delivers the lyrics sounds very similar to the Vendetta Red song "Shatterday"

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

i would take the first 6 songs on this cd against anything else this year, but the second half just isn't as stellar. Still a great cd though

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

Where's the review of new Turbonegro and Death By Stereo?

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

Awesome if you're into this sound. Otherwise stay way, way, way away.

OC

sethcohen (June 24, 2005)

I think some songs have almost a depressed Limbeck fell to them also. This is one of the best albums I've heard this year though.

Anyways, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah is where it is at.

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

Brilliant.... If you like james in any way, get this-oldpunker-

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

interested in hearing this, but i was a little put off that if id didnt like it my heart was dead. That kind of ultimatum reviewing/promotion is a BIG turn off. Bad tact.

wyzo

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

The reviewer has his head up his ass. Youth Group are in no way second class. This record is a fucking masterpiece.

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

Best album of the year so far. I never get tired of it.

ElVaquero (June 24, 2005)

Hmm, I hate Death Cab but like this album pretty much. Different strokes I suppose.

lou (June 24, 2005)

there are worse bands to immitate than the weakerthans and death cab. i'm going to have to hear this.

Inspection12e (June 24, 2005)

Man I almost judged a book by it's cover. I had avoided listening to this until I read this review because of the bad artwork. I just listened to two mp3s and damn were they good.

Anonymous (June 24, 2005)

Where's the fuckin' Larry Arms review?

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