Since 2007 Parks and Records is an indie label dedicated to protecting the great outdoors and building a community of passionate musicians and fans. A percentage of all sales go to nonprofits like the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Foundation. The label recently released Volume 2 by The Things of Youth.
The Things of Youth (aka Jon Fee) has been active in the indie community since the early 2000s playing bass and fronting beloved Bay Area indie rockers. That fact did not surprise me because as a 40 something I grew up on the steady diet of indie rock like The Shins, Wilco, Yo La Tengo, etc. The album feels like it’s from that period in the best way possible. The album has that type of aesthetic that has nearly gone in 2022 besides a couple indie bands like Parquet Courts that seem to be holding on.
They start with “Brothers in Paradise” and begin with a beautiful acappella section. Drums enter and get a familiar indie rock vibe. The song builds fuzzy guitars, drums and softly delivered vocals. It’s a very catchy song that builds with an intensity but doesn't go overboard.
I was hoping the rest of the album was going to be this good. “& Assoc” starts with a guitar riff that sounds like it came from the band Interpol. Other elements come in and create an atmospheric shoe gaze type vibe. I also loved the vocals on this especially the line “I can’t tell if we’re in the red or black.”
“Tethered” has such a cool and subdued groove. The percussion seems to be from a drum machine which works well with filtered guitar sound and eventually mixes in live drums too. There’s a warm glow of melancholy on this song but it mixes shades of emotion. I again really liked the vocal work on this song.
“This and That” is a highlight amongst great songs. The fuzzy guitars and vocal harmonies were fantastic. It gets epic in an indie rock type of way towards the end. Drum machines are back in the mix on the low key hum of the dreamy and emotionally resonant “Diamond Windows.” A similar emotional undercurrent is heard on “Watershed” which sneaks up on you.
One of my all time favorite bands Mogwai came to mind when listening to the beautifully warm atmosphere on “Animal Clouds.” “Baby Ivy Green” does feel like a companion piece to “Animal Clouds” but it gets brighter and more hopeful sounding.
The album did seem to transition from more a live indie rock band to something a little more bedroom oriented. I think the degrees are subtle but I did notice that when listening sequentially. This is a slight critique on an exceptional album.
Overall, I thought this album did so many things right and was a joy to experience. Suffice it to say fans of ’90s indie rock and beyond should love this. Highly recommended.
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