You Know Who - You Know Who (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

You Know Who

You Know Who (2015)

Self Destructo

You Know Who is a power trio from Palm Desert, California made up of Mike Pygmie (guitar/vocals), Dylan Brown (bass) and Greg Saenz (drums). They have been around since 2009, although I’ve only recently learned of them. This is their long-awaited debut LP for Self Destructo Records. The sound is a nearly perfect marriage of hardcore and stoner metal. It’s driving and aggressive, but retains the tunefulness of 70’s hard rock. It’s exactly what you’d expect from members of The Dwarves, Mondo Generator and Excel. It’s fast punk with the undeniable influence of the other desert bands like Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age.

The four song opening salvo is about as relentless a musical pummeling as I’ve heard all year. The first two songs also appear to have Simpsons references, which definitely wins points with me. “Napoleon Blown Apart” (season 12 episode 13) and “Save Me Jebus” (season 11 episode 15) also happen to be ripping tracks. “Jebus” features legendary Kyuss singer John Garcia on guest vocals. Pygmie plays in Garcia’s band and has a similar raspy howl. “Marshall Stacks and Alcohol” and “Wastoid” turn up the intensity even further, and together could probably serve as You Know Who’s mission statement.

The instrumental “Cobra Twist” shows off the musical prowess of these three grizzled veterans. The guitar riffs are often fast, single note runs (rather than chords) paired with fuzzed-out leads and solos. “Chinese Shoes” is the angriest and most straight-up punk/hardcore song on the record. It’s a disgusted rant about the consequences of our lust for cheap, foreign footwear (and other crap). Seven plus minute closer “Recycler” is the album’s most ambitious and musically diverse track. It includes a dramatic piano intro and some clean (non-distorted) guitar licks. It’s a bluesy, soulful departure from the other ten harder-edged songs.

You Know Who is clearly a band that understands who they are and what they want to do. Lyrically, they alternate between sarcastic and antagonistic. Musically, they have a confident swagger that comes from combining the best parts of Black Flag and Black Sabbath. This record would be equally appropriate for skating a halfpipe or passing a hash pipe. It’s a celebration of everything that’s good about rock and roll. It feels familiar without being derivative, and flat-out kicks ass. Highly recommended.