Cut of the Day: Your Rival, "I Don't Even Know," Under the Covers with Cougar Montana (Self-released)
Under the Covers art - Your Rival
It's the internet age, so maybe the idea of a band seeming "too young" to have absorbed certain influences is a little old-school. Still, I'm shocked to hear a group that's below drinking age and still sounds like Big Star, the Posies, Weezer and Superchunk all wrapped into a semi-sloppy, warm mess of awesome.
Under the Covers with Cougar Montana, a new two-song EP from Your Rival, showcases not just the band's innate understanding of pop history, but its desire to be bigger and broader than it has any right to be. It opens with this punchy, concise slab of Beatles-based pop. It's all perfectly enginelike guitar tone and sugary vocal harmonies, but it veers in so many directions at once that the more formulaic elements in frontman Mo Troper's songwriting feel fresh and explosive. Troper's songs always seem to shine with first-draft excitement, like he just fumbled his way into some great melodic twist and hit the record button immediately afterwards. He stretches for vocal notes he can't quite hit without a dash of self-consciousness (there are plenty of notes he can hit quite ably, but somehow that's not enough for the young frontman), and it makes Your Rival's music all the more personal and moving.
In concert, Your Rival trades subtle harmonies for punk energy, and it's a pretty flooring show. In a city full of coy, twee and understated bands, this kid sings at the top of his lungs and relishes the chance to tackle unaccompanied moments like the one that opens "I Don't Even Know." It's not showy or diva-like, he just loves to belt it out. Not every singer in indie rock is suited to this sort of thing, but Troper—who has a Freddie Mercury moment every now and again—is. He's also got the band to back it up. You should go see Your Rival.