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Band to Watch: London's Yuck Revive the Sound of Nineties Indie Rock

London band is led by a 20-year-old rock veteran

February 8, 2011 1:00 PM ET

Who: A London quintet led by songwriter Daniel Blumberg. Though he's only 20 years old, Blumberg is already an indie rock veteran whose first band Cajun Dance Party was signed to XL Records when he was just 15. After that band fell apart, Blumberg and his bandmate Max Bloom moved on to form Yuck.

Sounds Like: A well-rounded Nineties indie rock mixtape. Yuck's self-titled debut album has a comforting, familiar sound, but the appeal isn't limited to nostalgia – Blumberg and his bandmates have a talent for penning memorable hooks and gorgeous harmonies on par with the best work of the bands that inspired them. Though the group are great with noisy rockers like "Get Away" and "Georgia" (listen below), they are even better with wistful, gently melodic ballads such as "Shook Down" and "Suicide Policeman."

Georgia by Yuck

Loving the Nineties: According to Blumberg, the Nineties-ness of Yuck's first album is not an accident. "I listen to a lot of Nineties music," he says. "It's easy to get passionate about that stuff." Many of his all-time favorite records came out in that decade, including the Silver Jews' Starlite Walker and Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Blumberg's Nineties indie immersion began when a friend recommended that he check out Lambchop and Bonnie "Prince" Billy after hearing one of his piano compositions. "After I heard Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, I heard Smog and then I realized that Drag City had been putting all these records out," he says. "I heard Pavement and Royal Trux and was like 'Oh, my goodness!' That was probably one of the most exciting points in my life." 

Read the four-star Rolling Stone review of Yuck's self-titled debut album

Nervous About Videos: Blumberg says that he was very nervous about the band's first music video, a surreal, slightly racy clip for their heavy shoegazer epic "Rubber." (Watch below.) "It was the scariest thing because I thought, it's the one thing I don't do, or we don't do ourselves," Blumberg explains. "We do all the artwork and adverts ourselves, we think that's really important. I've never been able to express myself in moving pictures, but I have very strong opinions about film and photography." Despite his anxiety, he says the video came out pretty well. "That song probably meant the most to me, but I thought the video was quite detached from the song in a sense, but in a good way."

Yuck - Rubber from Yuck on Vimeo.

 

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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