WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras
Yankee Bluff is a Philadelphia supergroup duo consisting of bandmates of the short lived, but influential, Dogs on Acid. Prior to that, Peter Helmis played in Algernon Cadwallader while Nate Dionne was a member of Snowing, two very influential mid 2000s emo bands. These two have been making music for quite some time and each of their respected projects are boundary pushing for their own musicianship. Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing were hard hitting, fast, and loud emo bands that combined punk energy with bloodcurdling screams. Dogs on Acid was more of indie rock/emo crossover but the instrumentation of the band slowed down, the vocals were more present, and the band was able to flesh out ideas in more experimentation than before, think Minor Threat to Fugazi transition.
Now what Yankee Bluff is are a two piece of the two who have slowed down their sound even more in this project. Its described-on Lame-O Records website as “punk/lo-fi/indie rock/ dirt-pop album.” That is about as well put as you can describe this record. The record is named after the DIY batting cage space “Everybody Hits” (rip) where it was also recorded. This is a very good record that is loaded with songs, each as good as the last. Philadelphia music veterans Helmis and Dionne show just how good and creative they are by this record. Each of their projects is boundary pushing and never like the last, which makes them all the more fun to follow.
Previously, the band released a few EPs and other than a few pop-up shows, there wasn’t much activity until this 19-song record came out. The band will feature short little vignettes of sorts, check “(Girard at Dawn),” “(15 Making All Stops),” “(Next to the Silver Dollar),” between a set of songs to break up the record. These songs are often under a minute, and are loud noises and sounds the band put together. The fact these short vignettes are so fun to listen to is a sign of how enjoyable Everybody Hits is.
The first song, “Valley Song,” is a fun jangle pop song combining multiple vocals and tones that keep the song fun, and low-key instrumentation. “Yr Picture,” “Let You Know,” and “Mowee Wowee,” showcases what the early Yankee Bluff EPs sounded like vocally and musically: low-fi, quick, and catchy. The best part of “Yr Picture” comes about midway through when this noise rock sounding guitar solo takes over. The way both musicians harmonize the hook is also a highlight as their voices blend so nicely together.
There are songs on this record that will remind listeners of Dogs on Acid. For example, “Darkened Kitchen” could have been a Dogs on Acid B-side with its loaded instrumentation and laid-back vocal arrangement. A song like “Bargaining” sounds almost like a 90s banger with its nice poppy guitar work, and fun going vocals that are strong and energetic.
The last half of the record finds the band moving into totally different sounding songs than we have ever heard from them. “I Was There Once” is a fast almost power pop song that’s infectious as anything, with its fast hitting drum fills, and vocals that seem to flow effortlessly between the structure of the instrumentation. “Wendy” will be a favorite for fans of Algernon Cadwallader as Helmis screams out the lyrics “are you in trouble or having the time of your life.” It is an awesome moment that doesn’t feel forced, but authentic and natural to the song. “Kiss on the Forehead” is probably the most experimental song on the entire record as the group uses synths and other dark sounding instrumentation. It is a dark and eerie vibe that will eventually add to these dry sounding drums and psychedelic guitars.
Just a few songs later there are poppy bright songs like “C’mon Down,” and “Vicious Snobs” that are faster and more punk rock energy than the previous. The record ends with “The Mine” which is slow, more stripped back, and has a classic Yankee Bluff sound. It eventually breaks into an up-tempo tune, where the ending of the song reaches a high point and ends with a single vocal.
This is a fantastic record that seemed to fall from the sky. Yankee Bluff doesn’t have much of a social media presence unless it’s to promote a show they are playing. But, they signed to one of the best labels in Philadelphia and released a record that is as diverse musically as it is fun and enjoyable. This record is loaded with almost an hour of music, all of it necessary and good. Everybody Hits continues to push the sound of Yankee Bluff further than their previous releases and also added new elements and sounds the band had not previously used. It gives the band a bright future and leaves the sky limitless to what sound they want to achieve. At the time of this write up, there only have less than 10 records left on their Bandcamp, proving its recent popularity!
For fans of: Dogs on Acid, Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing
- (Girard At Dawn)
- Valley Song
- Yr Picture
- Darkened Kitchen
- Mowee Wowee
- Better For You
- Let U Know
- (15 Making All Stops)
- By The Flow
- (Next To The Silver Dollar)
- Candle Song
- I Was There Once
- Kiss On The Forehead
- Steep Rocks
- Come On Down
- Vicious Snobs
- The Mine