Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
There’s rock music on this release – make no mistake. Rock, however, is just one of many colors these four young Wisconsin natives draw from on Yam Haus’ debut album Stargazer. The band’s members met in high school and have played together since then and their experience with one another is borne out by their obvious chemistry. They, frankly, never sound tentative or untested. Instead, the thirteen songs on Stargazer are grounded in an upbeat aesthetic around a core sound with the flexibility to harbor multiple variations within that central theme. Their clean cut youthful appearance doesn’t readily present the reality that these four musicians are far more advanced than the typical debut act – but once you give Stargazer a single spin, you’ll soon discover that this album is a collaborative initial release quite unlike any other in recent memory.
They begin the album in a relatively bold way. Yam Haus leads things off with the album’s title track “Stargazer” and their infectious blend of vivid yet understated guitar with sparkling and creative synth lines weaving and flaring throughout the arrangement. Lead vocalist Lars Pruitt has an effortless charm in his performance drawing you in from the first and much of the key to his appeal lies in his sharp instincts for vocal melody and the palpable feeling in his voice. Kicking the album off with its title cut is a genuine statement of confidence few new artists or bands dare to dabble with, but it pays off well for Yam Haus. “Kingdom” is one of the finer songs on Stargazer thanks to its deft turn at characterization, among other reasons. It may fly under the radar due to the sheer musical creativity on display here, but the lyrical content on Stargazer is uniformly top notch and “Kingdom” stands out as one of the best cuts on this recording.
The effervescent uplift of the band’s music continues with the album’s fourth song “Get Somewhere”, particularly when it hits its exultant chorus. The smattering of backing vocals counterpointed against Pruitt’s own adds another dollop of sweetness to an already likeable tune. Jake Felstow’s drumming proves, track after track, to be an important component in the band’s success and that’s no exception with this number. “Too Many People” is an introspective track, yet never slips into melancholy or despair. Instead, it’s a remarkably measured and mature tune highlighted by Pruitt’s vocal and eloquently tasteful lead guitar from Seth Blum. This isn’t a guitar-dominated album, Yam Haus is never that predictable, but they weave their six string artistry into a larger compositional frame guaranteed to enchant listeners. Stargazer is a fully realized gem, an astonishing debut, and points the way towards a bright future for this Midwestern quartet. It’s hard to imagine that Yam Haus won’t be a presence in music lover’s lives for decades to come.