As multicultural a rock band as you're likely to find, California's Young the Giant takes all those various backgrounds and influences and mixes them into a joyous noise on their self-titled debut. On the surface, this is rock music infused with a shot of melodic pop. But dig deeper into this album and you'll catch a taste of many other styles that have rubbed off on the five members.
Starting with Indian-American lead singer Sameer Gadhia, Young The Giant also consists of French Canadian, British, Persian-American and Italian-Jewish members who all bring their individual tastes to the table. Gadhia's unique voice is joined by just a strumming guitar to open the album on the mid-tempo "Apartment". That gives way to one of the numerous standout tracks on the album, the anthem "My Body". Tailor made for blasting through the speakers at a packed sports arena, it's no surprise I was first introduced to the song as the theme for Fox Sports' Detroit Pistons coverage all season. Gadhia sings 'My body tells me no/but I won't quit 'cuz I want more' during the infectious, fist pumping track. Not surprisingly, the song became a Top Ten Alternative Rock track in no time and, to these ears, it's one of the best rock tracks you'll hear this year.
The many other highlights include the made for tops down in the summer swoon of "I Got", which reminds me of a Vampire Weekend song I would actually like, the sweet tasting melodies of "Cough Syrup", and the power chords of "12 Fingers". Sticking out like a sore thumb, but in a good way, is the ballad "Islands", the only true slow track on the album. It builds to a slow simmer with Gadhia going in and out of his falsetto until a subtle, sexy groove starts halfway through. It'll truly take you away to a lush, tropical island, a wonderful vocal performance and calming oasis towards the end of the album.
Young The Giant is yet another band that is restoring my faith that good rock music is still being made out there in 2011. And their album of the same name is another entry in my Best of 2011 list. Don't miss this one.
"Young The Giant" was released in the U.S. January 25, 2011 on Roadrunner Records.