"What You Taught Me (Baby)" by Year Without A SummerReview
Lots of things make writing reviews of great local music for "Hot Music Live" pleasurable. Sometimes there is a mounting sense of anticipation of a long awaited release (there is one album by a well known local musician I have been listening to now for over a month but I can't tell you about it until next January I'm afraid: you can imagine my desire to do so).
Other times, the opposite can apply: in this instance the unlooked for & unexpected receipt of a new single (which comes out on 12th September). When it is by a band as interesting, experimental & yet as accessible as Year Without A Summer, the pleasure is enhanced & like with a present, I couldn't wait to tear the wrappings off & play it.
I hope you have downloaded & enjoyed "What Happened to the Caterpillars" from our own ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Three' as an introduction to the band if you had not previously encountered their music? At any rate, they are now sharing "What You Taught Me (Baby)" with us.
I say "they": in fact when you listen to the track, everything you hear is by Joe Wilson (though I urge you also to gaze at the striking cover art by Cait Buckley). Created during lockdown but we are assured that it's not about lockdown.
As with the rest of his work, Joe brings an accessible & immediate approach to bear which immediately enhances its impact by minimising the barriers between artist & audience. The sound is that sort of lo-fi post punk one with instruments doing things you can actually hear clearly & from time to time skittering off along interesting tangents which keep you on your listening toes.
What is most remarkable about the song however is Joe's vocal delivery. I wonder if he passed out after the take? A breathless tumble of words delivered at a tempo you'd find hard to keep up for long, thank goodness there is the odd instrumental interlude to save him from asphyxiation.
Not obviously about caterpillars nor moths this time (though given the rush of words I am prepared to be corrected on that point), the song seems a reflection on life's lessons (including those r4eceived from a specific teacher), the capacity to grow & change (it's this bit & the seasonal references which may be any Lepidoptera themed content) and the futility of engaging with negative others.
Work like this represents the best about those working in local music beyond the perceptions of the mainstream media. Not apparently attempting to copy the stylings of the successful to chase fame themselves, it asks questions we probably all ought to be asking ourselves anyway & in a way which is as catchy as any pop song yet not blandified by layers of process & production. It's not wilfully avant garde to the point of pretension & alienation nor could it offend anyone. I really do wonder why bands like Year Without A Summer get pigeonholed beyond the horizon of so many.... It's a real shame that they are missing out.