Review: York Redoubt

Ben Burnett

Admittedly, the guys in York Redoubt look like they’d fit in your second-year psychology class. But on their debut full length the foursome are writing songs as spastic and complex as anyone else in Halifax’s scene.

Populated by noise and fuzz heavy groups like the Bad Arts, Bloodsport, and Bike Rodeo, the Halifax scene is seeing a resurgence of bands influenced by artsy punk music like Sonic Youth.

While York Redoubt definitely have a hand in the punk scene, their songs take equal cues from the artier side of indie music. They manage to channel the same vibe as Staten Island-based band Cymbals Eat Guitars, whose debut album, Why There Are Mountains, received rave reviews this summer.

But where Cymbals Eat Guitars’ album merely tied together mid-90’s indie influences like Built to Spill, Pavement and Modest Mouse, York Redoubt endeavored to build on that model.

Both York Redoubt and Cymbals Eat Guitars pack the intensity of albums like There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, and The Moon and Antarctica into their debut records. However, their approach to song-writing is far more sprawling, filling each song with new ideas until they seem ready to burst.

Still, the two bands have a fundamental difference in their song-writing. Cymbals Eat Guitars space their album out, fusing their indie influences with a post-rock sensibility that extends their songs several minutes with ambiance. York Redoubt’s songs rarely break the three minute mark, yet they pack more parts in each song than most bands do per album. They have a screw-loose anxiety that gives their music an unpredictable edge, and makes their record a constantly thrilling listen.

I caught York Redoubt at the Capital  opening for Dog Day. Live, they were just as reckless, impatient and exciting as their recording suggest. Their harmonies sounded great, and the songs were as filled out as they are on the album. They even nailed the challenging noise section at the end of “Guillotines and I” from their recent cassette Cheap Funerals.

They were, however, dealt an unfortunate hand. Thanks to intense rains and a Sunday night booking, few people made the trek out to see them, and no one there was really interacting with the band. They had a mildly attentive audience, but it was a far cry from what a Friday or Saturday headliner booking would have done for them.

Their set was pretty tight, but towards the end broken strings and lack of audience communication brought them off their game a little bit. They seemed to suffer from the jitters of a young, touring band, and that’s fair. They’re still new, and they’ve still got a whole lot of room left to grow.

But their potential is the most exciting thing about York Redoubt: their debut album and cassette are both fantastic, they’ve got a ton of energy and spark live, and they’re writing great songs that showcase a real lust for excitement. Make sure to catch them the next time they come through town.

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