Welcome to Noise Creator’s New Noise column where we tell you about the best up and coming bands we think everyone will be talking about soon. By Ben Sailer
Everything moves in cycles.
This is a basic truth of the universe that extends from the passing of day to night, to the changing of seasons. For musicians, this principle generally plays out in the form of a band starting up, flaming out, and its members moving onto their next project. This leads us to the story of Youth League. Formed from the ashes of Wilmington, NC math rock outfit Virgin Lung, the group was initially intended to be a loop-heavy two-piece. After just a few shows, the duo added Jaffar Omar Obi Castillon-Martinez on bass guitar, finalizing the lineup that would write and record the band’s fittingly titled First EP.
“All of us just had similar tastes in music and found it pretty easy early on the write and play together as a three piece,” the band said via email.
Featuring six tracks of mathematical punk-infused indie-pop recorded and mixed by Aslan Freeman and mastered by Noise Creators founder Jesse Cannon, it buries its hooks deep, working its way into your subconscious and playing itself there on repeat. Picture something that falls somewhere between the tapping guitar acrobatics of early Minus The Bear and the lush post-hardcore of The Velvet Teen, and you’ve got some idea of what’s in store for you here.
From start to finish, First EP is a cascading aural affair that traverses joyous melodic peaks and transitions into more aggressive tendencies with equal ease. The opening track “Young/Old” starts off strong with a warm two-hand tapped guitar line and defiant verse vocal declarations, before laying back into a relaxed mid-section groove and towering finish. “Futbol > Football” keeps that momentum going with a propulsive punk backbeat.
By the time third track “Japanese Draculas” hits, however, there’s a subtle shift in feel toward urgent desperation, while “ZK Missed Out On Some Quality Racoon Time” almost could have been ripped out of an 8-bit video game intermission. It leads well into “Let’s Elope,” a short yet anthemic track driven by delay-heavy guitar lines before closer “For John” winds wordlessly through dark desperation back toward the EP’s beginning.
The record’s cover art, featuring a yellow background with circular streetlights, ties into the EP’s musical content in a way that’s less obvious than it might seem.
“The more [graphic designer Justin Jackson of GSO NC] listened to the EP, the more he felt like it was a cyclical work. It starts out rather upbeat and fun and slowly transitions to a slightly darker, more somber sound on ‘For John’. But if you start the record over after it’s finished, it transitions really well back into the upbeat introduction,” the band said. “Additionally, the circle is also meant as a metaphor for all of the looping work. The stop sign is yet another metaphor … (ie. stop, go, record, loop) as well.”
That consistency of flow from beginning to end back to beginning compensates well for First EP’s relatively short length; it’s easy to leave it on repeat without it feeling repetitive. This is a release that follows through on a cohesive creative vision to deliver something deeper than what’s expected, melding pop melodicism with mathematical compositional flair in a way that begs repeated listens without ever overstaying its welcome. Furthermore, while some bands that attempt similar things could be accused of hiding behind guitar theatrics and gargantuan pedal boards to disguise a lack of songwriting chops, that isn’t the case here. Rather, it strikes a rare balance between taste and technicality without devolving into pretense; the level of musicianship here is high, but the focus remains refreshingly on strong songwriting above all else.
Here’s hoping Youth League someday find their way forward with a full-length release. Until then, get on board now before someone else tells you about them later.
Ben Sailer is a writer based out of Fargo, ND with more than ten years of experience covering underground rock. He survives on the frozen plains with a steady diet of beer and new music.