'American Man' taps into the disparate, murky pools of the American musical lexicon; dark country to kinetic punk, acid blues to flared jeans boogie, low-brow backdrops pitted against high-minded literary references. It’s an edgy, engrossing trip.
The Yawpers roar over the roofs of a world filled with the ruined and the forgotten, where big dreams and small towns are pitched to the collective curb, and lost men and con men roam the gutters and pulpits. American Man taps into the disparate, murky pools of the American musical lexicon; dark country to kinetic punk, acid blues to flared jeans boogie, low-brow backdrops pitted against high-minded literary references. It’s an edgy, engrossing trip.
Shimmering against blacktop fever dreams and Elvis’s ghostly sneer are the anarchic impulses of the MC5 and psychedelic muscle of Leslie West’s Mountain and Blue Cheer. Raw and melodic, infectious and irreverent, American Man is an update on the Springsteen tramp’s dream of getting out while you’re young, this time played for the inhalants generation. It’s the suicide rap played out in the desert, without velvet rims or everlasting kisses, the tramp as much a drifter as a romantic.
The Denver-based Yawpers’ unique set up---overdriven acoustic guitars and drums, equal parts frenzy, solemnity, and menace---alchemically binds snotty rawk ‘n’ roll to the hopeful and fuses the elemental power of the RIFF to the intimacy of a sunset-bound road trip. “Doing It Right” is, at once, deeply soulful and an urgent call to action, with brutal and bluesy freakouts that slide by the Morrison Hotel (with the Meat Puppets and Spahn Ranch in the rearview mirror). “Burdens,” with its pound on the dashboard scream-a-long chorus, is a dark and dislocating stab at the teenage ode to the fresh outta school good times: Maybe my dreams turn to burdens instead / But I’m only 17 /I’m headed for the sun / and I’m getting out of here while I’m young enough to run
The cathartic “3 A.M.,” with its powerful and vivid sonic scope, leaves us lying on the stage with them by the end:
Well maybe I’ll turn to Jesus, maybe I’ll cash it all in / I can feel the darkness coming, sitting here at 3 A.M.
The disdain and resignation permeating the running-out-of-power ballad “American Man” has us wondering if we’re waving our lighters in celebration or disgust. Are they building a temple or are they burning it down? This is my home but I’m a stranger here / If I had any left I’d cry American tears
And shit, man, “Tied,” with its S&M take on “When The Levee Breaks” goin’-to-Chicago bluster needs to be heard by a crowd packing 40,000 one-hitters.
With a voice weaving between a folk club’s smoky rasp and an arena’s bombastic howl, singer/guitarist Nate Cook is a lounge lizard charmer, a smooth snake-oil salesman, and sharp-tongued, keen-eyed poet. Battering-ram drummer Noah Shomberg also brings a refined touch exhibiting his formal training. Jesse Parmet’s guitar is an aural cross-section of the ferocious and raw proletarian roots of Uncle Tupelo to the burning-hot thrashings of Hot Snakes, as much Son House’s delta as Hell’s Angels’ Altamont. Together, the Yawpers have forged a well-defined identity: a general disdain for the conventional with a sonic depth that never loses its accessibility.
American Man is the band’s second full-length release. They’ve self-released an EP (Savage Blue), a full-length album (Capon Crusade), and a bootleg covers record (Good Songs/Shitty Versions). The Yawpers formed in 2011 when Parmet and Cook played together at the only speakeasy in Boulder, CO. They added a drummer to the mix and a new trio was born.
The band’s name is a nod to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”