Y-O-U - Flashlights
Y-O-U – Flashlights
By Rikki O.
Nick Niespodziani - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica
Peter Olson - bass, keyboards, vocals
?Mark Cobb - drums, keyboards, vocals
Y-O-U is a band for the thinking (wo)man. Based right here in Atlanta (though they all originate from Southern Indiana), the trio has a rotating troop of illustrious musicians and art collaborators that they work with including The Chapman Brothers and Tyler James. Songwriters Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson have known each other since 4th grade, and have somehow not only remain friends, but evidently like each other enough to continuously create smart, mature, and incredibly quirky music together after all this time. The band is deliciously anchored together by the hot bass lines from Peter, while Nick's singing ranges from soulful to howling to tender depending on his onstage persona for the evening. Drummer Mark Cobb, a graduate from the renowned Indiana University School of Music, rounds out the trio. Mark is a master of percussion – when not playing with Y-O-U, Limozeen (whose song "Because, It's Midnight" was recently featured on Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80's) Rock Fight or Three Dog Stephens, he is also an instructor each summer (along with Nick) for Camp Jam in Atlanta where he works with and mentors hundreds of young musicians.
"Flashlights" is the forth release from a group that never seems to stop creating; the CD is available in its entirety or as individual MP3s on both their Please Rock website and Myspace. In addition to their musical efforts that began with their self-titled debut in 2003, make sure you check out their various mockumetaries posted on YouTube (the mannerisms on Lenny Koggins from "Three Dog Stephens" had me in tears I laughed so hard). While taken at surface level, "Flashlights" is a completely entertaining and enjoyable listen, but clearly these guys have more to offer than any surface could hold. Layers upon layers of metaphor and sound create a densely packed smorgasbord of kooky ideas and commentaries on the strange, politically charged times we live in. Plus, any band that sings to me about Einstein's woes get an automatic A+ in my book.
"Flashlights" has numerous songs that seem to comment on our cultural obsession with image ("The Purpose should be clear but I can't see it/Medicine Man, will you replace these tired eyes?" from "Medicine Man"), politics ("Don't worry about the government/they've got things under control/Communists and Believers/We'll figure it out at the polls/And the winners will be great actors/But we'll all play different roles" from "All Arranged #7"), and survival in our neo-Mccarthyism America ("Officials hear only the fortunate cries/Utter your suspicion and your freedom's compromised" from "Let It Go"). Judging by the collection of sweet little love ditties included, I have to surmise that Y-O-U are quite the romantics as well: "Glad/ I Found You", "Effort" and standout track "Moviekiss" are all smart, squishy odes to taking a chance on love and all it's uncertainties.
One of my personal favorite tracks on "Flashlight" is "The Physics Of Giving (Einstein Song)", which highlights genius' responsibility to contribute to the world versus the human needs inside them that desire expression as well. "Break" is my other favorite, and while I appreciate the softer version on the cd to the amped up version in the video, I have to plead with you: WATCH THIS VIDEO. It just solidifies all the raving I have been doing throughout this review, and hopefully convinces you to check out one of Atlanta's most underappreciated art/indie/sandal/ALIAS rock bands that are doing something that precious few out there manage to do; rock you via funnybone, dancin' feet AND brain. Kudos.
Editor's Note: I cannot see why such a talented band who have pushed themselves so hard for so many years are not signed with a major label. You can catch Y-O-U every other Thursday night at Smith