Today marks the complete unveiling of Yak's new double A-side single Heaven's Above/Semi Automatic, the latest in a list of artistic triumphs for the band. Complete with the band's trademark Neo-Expressionist cover art, it's business as usual for the band - as always, I really appreciate the notion of the first post-album single being new music rather than an album track fluffed up and given a music video to get it onto Radio 6. But is this just because the band had a bunch of tracks lying about after the release of their debut album Alas Salvation? The answer is thus; yes, probably, but that's no terrible thing.
I don't think either of these songs really deserves a place on the album, but they're both more than stellar nuggets of gritty, gnostic garage rock psychedelia. Heaven's Above is fairly lax, bar bleeds of bloodthirsty feedback, before it kicks into a much noisier section halfway through - although it doesn't quite explode in the way it constantly threatens to. In a way, it's a bit of a tease of a song. It always threatens to implode, come to life, to flower - but doesn't. It's a very good track, but it doesn't smash your face off in the same way that Victorious, Hungry Heart and Use Somebody do on the band's album.
Semi Automatic is probably a much stronger track, as a standalone point of wonder. Imagine The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but like, from Dalston. There's a wind-instrument sound that might be a reverbed-up panpipe, a self-satisfied vocal delivery, and a rhythmic momentum you can really bop to. It's a postmodern nugget of Anton Newcombe worship, a - umm - BJaM (get it, like jam and BJM), and really a joy to listen to, although without the shout-along choruses, punishing, raucous feedback and guitar tones that would turn Roky Erickson on.
But hey, we got new music from one of the best guitar bands around, so who's complaining?
Words: Cal Cashin