Austin, Aijala, Kaufmann & Johnston (YMSB)

by | May 14, 2006

Yonder is coming to the table with a new record label and a well known rock producer for their latest release, available as of last Tuesday.

Here’s the label’s take on the effort:

If Yonder Mountain String Band’s fourth studio album and self-titled debut for Vanguard Records sounds a little different, well, it should. It marks the first time the burgeoning progressive string band has worked with a stellar rock producer–Tom Rothrock (Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith, Beck and James Blunt–it’s the first time they’ve added a little drums care of Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas to their mix and it’s the first time they’ve written almost an entire album spontaneously.

Previously, guitarist Adam Aijala, mandolinist Jeff Austin, banjo player Dave Johnston and bassist Ben Kaufmann would each show up to the studio with their own songs, or songs that had already been worked up on the road. But with Rothrock behind the boards, they sat around and came up with songs that stirred the band’s creative juices in a new way.

“For me, it was a very necessary step that the band had to take, just because we’ve always been about letting ourselves experiment to the full width of the spectrum” says Austin.

“[This album] probably represents us more than any other record we’ve done,” states Aijala, “because it incorporates more of our musical influences than ever before. It’s a really cool thing to be a part of and I’ll never take for granted just how lucky we are to do what we do. It makes me more excited for the future.”

The disc’s first track “Sidewalk Stars,” is pleasantly, if not obviously, an homage to The Beatles, a band Yonder loves to cover in concert. The disc’s third track, “How Bout You,” a number with drums and electric guitar reminds me of certain Leftover Salmon jams, a band Yonder clearly has close ties with. The fourth track, “Angel,” sounds like it’s coming from some dark holler–a great place for a song to come from. Their Todd Snider cover, “East Nashville Easter” ends with feedback, in a bow to the rock gods.