Last year, they released their second album. This year, they were up for a Juno.
In March 2012, British Columbia’s Yukon Blonde issued Tiger Talk, their sophomore CD. The first single, Stairway, became a fixture on modern rock radio and was also heard in a heavily aired Toronto Blue Jays promo spot on Sportsnet. Two more hit singles, My Girl and Six Dead Tigers, soon followed.
Then, in February 2013, the band were one of five nominated for the Breakthrough Group Of The Year award at the 43rd Juno Awards, Canada’s Grammys. Although they lost to Monster Truck this past weekend, the nomination was most certainly a breakthrough in its own right.
One of my last submissions to Monkeybiz.ca was this assessment of Tiger Talk. Not a single editorial change was made before its posting on April 9, 2012. For this Published Archives reposting, however, the paragraphs are much smaller and more easily digestible. In other words, this is exactly how my review looked when I submitted it more than a year ago.
As a critic, it can be very difficult to predict which acts will make it and which ones will stay obscure forever. As a result, you’re wrong far more often than you’re right. Although Yukon Blonde were expected to be successful as far back as 2010, the mainstream eluded them until the release of the Stairway single two years later.
I’m proud to say that my review proved somewhat prescient in this regard. Tiger Talk did indeed “help raise their profile”.
YUKON BLONDE: TIGER TALK: An album review
Posted on April 09 2012 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl
If Sam Roberts became the new frontman for a reunited Supergrass, the result would probably sound like Yukon Blonde.
Based out of British Columbia, this alt-rock quartet is so musically polished and radio-friendly you wonder why they’re still relatively unknown and on an indie label.
Their second album, Tiger Talk, is a briskly engaging affair that should help raise their profile. Only one of the record’s ten songs fails to connect.
That would be Guns. Its rather muddled message isn’t helped by a lacklustre arrangement that only briefly comes to life when a rather moving synthesizer sequence pops up early during an instrumental break.
The rest of the material is far more entertaining. A gripping guitar lick kick starts Six Dead Tigers, a rip-roaring rocker about a guy with writer’s block brought back to life by the sight of a beautiful woman.
For LA is an alt-rock California Dreamin’. Singer Jeffrey Innes encapsulates in a single line what every young Canadian feels during a brutal winter (“I don’t want to grow old in this cold”). Amen.
Breaking Tigers temporarily replaces the influence of Supergrass with The Strokes in a relentlessly hooky arrangement that consistently exhilarates, particularly in the minute-long jam that marks the song’s conclusion.
My Girl is another entertaining rocker (and no, it’s not a reworking of The Temptations’ classic).
Rather, it’s a sweet, jangly love song that curiously begins with this dangerous couplet (“You get these urges to just drive when you’re drunk/ I have these urges to just ride along”).
Thankfully, this bad idea doesn’t lead to tragedy and is wisely abandoned (“You left your roller coaster attitudes back home”).
Hoping to evoke the nostalgic feelings his love interest once had for her rock idols during her teen years, Innes believes he’ll have a hit record in his own right so he can spoil her:
(“I’ll buy you a house and/I’ll buy you a car/When I’ll make it rich off selling a song”). Ultimately, he wants to get out of the friend zone (“When I’ll make it rich babe/I’ll make you rich then you’ll be my girl”).
My Girl leads right into Radio, the closest this band comes to sounding like ELO, especially with its harmonies, a welcome recurrence throughout the album.
Radio brings us directly to Stairway, a straightforward track about a homesick musician, bored and fatigued with the business of touring, who pines to see his lady love again (“I’m wishing that I could be home right now/right home to you”).
Taking a cue from R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts, the ironically titled Iron Fist is a worthwhile plea to a lovelorn character to hang in there and not give up when life turns sour (“You will get over it”). It’s a beautiful rock ballad.
Also good is the empathetic Oregon Shores as the protagonist imagines a man less fortunate than himself (“No money/no shitty job/no home/no food to order/where do you go without a home?”)
Sweet Dee, the album’s closer, isn’t much cheerier.
The road to a happy relationship is derailed by an insecure protagonist (“I know I can’t be your man”) who doesn’t have any tools to cope with his own problems (“I tried to run/through darker times/it’s all I know”).
Despite its unhappy circumstances, it’s an appropriate finish for a very good record.
Yukon Blonde are signed to Dine Alone Records, the indie label that gave us Bedouin Soundclash and City And Colour, and released Hot Hot Heat’s wonderful Future Breeds CD in 2010.
Here’s hoping Tiger Talk helps add them to that list of success stories.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 24, 2013