January 15, 2016

Gone Too Soon (Young English)

Welcome to our new series: Gone Too Soon. In this series we will focus on bands that ended their music careers too soon. These pieces will focus on what made these acts so great and why it’s shame they stopped working.

The first band in these series is the pop-punk act; Young English.

New York natives Young English first made a mark on the scene in 2011 with their debut EP, I Hate My Friends. The 4-track EP featured outstanding production values and packed a hearty punch for anyone craving emotionally fueled pop-punk. What made Young English really stand out was the sheer rawness of Chris Penning’s vocals. His range displays a rare blend of warmth and aggression, a fine-line to conjure. The lyrics are engaging and memorably provide lots of vivid imagery. The light guitar picking is beautifully intertwined with the somber bass notes to compliment each tracks attitude. Despite the seldom harsh vocals and the hard-hitting drums, Young English balances these elements delicately and expertly. The chorus of “New England” displays these traits perfectly. There is a melancholic tone infused with so much energy that you can’t help but feel every note and every chord played. Critics claimed the EP “played it safe,” and tonally sounded “choppy,” but I’d argue they are anything but. It’s very tricky to include all of the characteristics and produce something so appealing to the average rock fan.

In 2012, Young English had an 8-track split with Pentimento which featured a cover of The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Tonight, Tonight.” Young English’s sound was more concise and hard-hitting than ever. “Woke Up Under Water” features adrenaline fueled verses and enough self-deprecating lyrics to be a worthy addition to the band’s arsenal. The split keeps the up-tempo energy flowing with “So Long, Connecticut,” a short, surprisingly breezy trash-rock track. This EP represents a distinct growth from Young English in songwriting and style. The production quality shows an improvement in clarity with more attention on the vocals.

The band entered a transitional phase in late 2012 when vocalist Chris Penning left Young English. The band found a replacement vocalist in February of 2013 and continued to play local shows for a few more months. In the midst of all the chaos of the last 6 months, the band went on hiatus in mid-2013. Band members went separate ways to start new projects until the original line-up united for a series of shows in late 2014. As of 2016, it’s safe to say the band is officially dead.

Young English displayed immense talent and potential in their short few years together as a band. The sound change between their two EP’s saw them experimenting with new avenues that all seemed to work on some level, but never quite found a solidified direction. A great way to describe Young English is to compare them to the resurgence of the UK pop-punk scene happening now. Comparatively, bands like Moose Blood, Trash Boat, and Boston Manor share a lot of similarities stylistically with Young English. It’s fascinating to wonder what direction a full-length would have gone in and to see them tour outside of the East coast.

Do yourselves a favor and check out these guys.

Written by: Patrick Marion

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