Dillo Artist Profile: Young the Giant
By Sam Baldwin
In 2004, a group of five young men formed a band called the Jakes. A few hectic years ensued - members joined and left the band, and the group continued to solidify their musical sound. By 2009, the band consisted of lead vocalist, Sameer Gadhia, guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata, bassist Payam Doostzadeh, and drummer Francois Comtois, and after being signed to Roadrunner Records, the group changed their name to Young the Giant. The Orange County rock band released their eponymous debut album a year later, and since then have continued to top the US Alternative charts. So, looking forward to Young the Giant’s Dillo Day performance this weekend, here are five of their best songs:
One of the more catchy and powerful songs on Young the Giant’s debut album, “My Body” was written in a bout of spontaneity. The band was experiencing a block in their writing process, when Gadhia suggested, “Why don’t we just jam something out, like the most ridiculous thing you could imagine? It doesn’t even have to make sense. Just yell it out, because it means you’re releasing your tension.” The songs lyrics, which utilize the motif of a train, parallel the music, which builds in intensity, while maintaining a steady beat and guitar riff that evokes the chugging of a freight train. The musical tension builds through the verse, only to explode in a strong chorus that releases all inhibition.
The title track from Young the Giant’s sophomore album, “Mind Over Matter” opens with a peppy synth line, that carries throughout each chorus, sprinkled between overblown vocals and a commanding guitar. The song is a step away from the softer indie sounds of the band’s first album, blasting them into full-blown rock territory. The power of the chorus is countered by glimmering “oohs” and “ahhs,” as well as breathy verses, taking it from a dreamy feel-good tune, to an empowering rock anthem without skipping a beat. “Mind Over Matter” was the first song written for the album, and it set the tone for each track that followed, allowing Young the Giant to break away from their indie roots and explore new musical territory.
The fourth track on Young the Giant’s most recent album begins with a woman’s laughter. The laugh is almost instantly cut off by a racing drum beat and competing bass and guitar riffs. The boisterous track tells the love story of Jack and Jill, two individuals who struggle to connect because of the elaborate fronts they put up for themselves. Jack “listens to Bowie,” while Jill “used to quote Hemingway.” The vigorous pounding of the drums, combined with the sparkling synth sounds and distorted guitar notes put the song right into the context of the story it tells. It’s sounds like a song that an angsty “too-cool” high schooler would blare through his headphones on the outskirts of the cafeteria - in the best way possible.
“Amerika,” a softer track titled after the Franz Kafka novel of the same name, tells a story of endless seeking. Off the album Home of the Strange, whose title is a clever reference to America's National Anthem, “Amerika” is a commentary on the ephemerality of the American Dream and the seemingly endless pursuit it. The track is fitting for the band, as they are an eclectic slew of first generation Americans, and it is extremely relevant in a political era in which first generation Americans and immigrants are consistently reminded of their identities. Musically, the track is relatively simple, perhaps to make clear the important agenda within the lyrics. There is a lot of lyrical repetition, and the drum beat and electronic undertones steadily chug along throughout the entirety of the track.
“12 Fingers” strays completely from the previous four tracks. It opens with a sweet and airy guitar riff, and much softer vocals from Gadhia. The song is reminiscent of a summer evening - the lyrics are sweet, and the wall of guitars gives it a playful and exciting tone. But, over the course of its four minutes, the track builds in intensity, reaching a climatic and triumphant chorus before eventually fading back into faint vocal “ohs” and the glowing guitar riff that opened the song.