Young Prisms at the Comet, Seattle | 25 February 2012
According to the how-to book on shoegaze there are a couple things that a band must posses to be considered descent. You must hero worship Dinosaur Jr. The guitar wizardry of J Mascis is well known and many of the early shoegaze bands noted him as influence. Second, you must have great bass player. You might think this to be counter-intuitive, but anyone can buy a bunch of effects pedals and pipe their guitar through them, but you need something solid to drape those washes of guitars over.
Young Prisms can put check marks next to both of those items. Saturday night at the Comet, the quintet crammed themselves onto the Comet stage with the lead guitarist sporting a Dino Jr cow t-shirt. Check. As they began to play the bass is up in the mix, almost too much, giving the twin guitar attack something to hang itself on. Check.
I’ve liked a lot of the records that Young Prisms have released to date, but I haven’t really loved one. That is all about to change when the band release their second album In Between on Kanine at the end of March. They’ve tempered their noisy side and allowed the dreamier parts of them to take over. In Between has distinct and obvious shoegaze influences, but it also has a more straightforward pop element to it. There are songs like Gone that remind me of Velocity Girl‘s Simpatico album, maybe because when guitarist Matt Allen sings he sounds like Archie Moore. Others have some keyboard flourishes that bring a slight Cure feel to them. So it’s not all Kevin Shields worship in the Young Prisms camp, there’s a diversity of influences evident in their songs.
Live, many of the above nuances weren’t identifiable. Main vocalist Stefanie Hodapp doesn’t have a strong voice and she was often overpowered by the rest of the band. This might not have been a problem in a place with a better sound system that could separate the vocals out from the rest of the mix a bit more. Seeing them live you also realize that nearly all of their songs are about the same tempo. They would benefit greatly by having one or to Twisterella’s , Duel’s or Soft As Snow But Cold Inside’s to liven it up a little more. Those are minor complaints, they generated a formidable maelstrom that more than held my interest. Their new album is a winner and with more touring I bet these new songs will get their show legs. I’m a believer, all I needed was good bass player and a Dino Jr. t-shirt to confirm.