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20 Questions (Vinyl)
~ Youngblood Brass Band
- Label: Tru Thoughts
- Cat Number: TRU277
“20 Questions” out is the first single from Youngblood Brass Band onTru Thoughts, having signed earlier this year. The single release, on 12” vinyl, cd and digital unveils three songs from their upcoming fourth LP, ‘Pax Volumi’, which follows later in the summer.
Youngblood Brass Band are a unique proposition; focused on creating consistently progressive, groundbreaking acoustic music, and employing whatever sonic means necessary to do so, the nine-piece ensemble marks the point at which the worlds and sounds of punk, brass band, hip hop and improv jazz collide. Youngblood assembled in the ‘90s and have been unleashing their energetic and inspiring shows on the worldwide stage since 2000. Although the band was originally formed by high school friends in Wisconsin, the line-up now comprises players from all over America (Madison, New Orleans, New York, Nashville, Minneapolis, Chicago).
Youngblood’s band-leader, studio producer and chief vocalist/lyricist is founder member David Henzie-Skogen – also a revered percussionist and drum-line coach - whose sharp, irreverent humour and fierce, energetic intelligence beam out of the speakers on these new tracks.
“20 Questions” announces the band’s manifesto with bluster and bravado, yet the self-assured hip hop swagger of the verses bubbles up with an undercurrent of tongue-in-cheek humour right from the opening stanza: “universally loved by british toddlers/by homeless french tuba players/by stoned american co-eds/6 albums, 15 years, 22 countries, who am I?/try not to love me”. The live performance video of “20 Questions” has gained over 7,500 YouTube hits since it was launched to announce the signing of the band.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” plays on the phonetic alphabet to fire out a volley of ascerbic observations and inquisitions, in the direction of the US government, primarily the biggie implied by the song’s title: WTF?. The backdrop is an inventive, ominous atmosphere of industrial, stripped back drumbeats up against the disconcertingly tripped-out sway of forlorn and doomy horn lines. The ‘Pax Volumi’ album is also half instrumental, and the third track here, “Overtime”, is a whip-crisp, energetic jam that represents the instrumental chops of the group, in which they become more recognisable as a New Orleans-inspired brass band.
lthough not based in New Orleans, Youngblood have long been in thrall to the music of that city and have made countless visits to learn and immerse themselves in the serious business of the craft. They were initially introduced to Tru Thoughts’ A&R Robert Luis by Bennie Pete of Hot 8 Brass Band, a group with whom they have built a kinship over the years.
Youngblood have been featured by the likes of XLR8R, Dazed, Urb and NPR; having headlined tours in over 20 countries, they have also played festivals including Roskilde, Glastonbury, Lowlands, Pukkelpop,SXSW, CMJ, North Sea Jazz, WOMAD, and more. Their debut album ‘Unlearn’ was released independently in 2000, featuring collaborators including Talib Kweli (spawning the underground smash “Ya’ll Stay Up”). This led to a signing with Ozone Music NYC, the avant-hip hop label that introduced Company Flow (El-P), Antipop Consortium, and Mr. Lif, among others, and 2003’s ‘center:level:roar’ LP saw the band globetrotting to growing audiences. Youngblood then released two more albums on Layered Music – 2005’s ‘Live. Places.’ and 2007’s ‘Is That a Riot?’ – both of which accelerated their notoriety. They also continue to engage in frequent educational work, stopping at high schools, universities and institutions to offer workshops on New Orleans music history, jazz improvisation, hip hop culture and the creative impulse; along the way acquiring a huge fanbase and cult status among young musicians.