Young Guv’s Ben Cook explores swagger and sweetness on two new records | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Young Guv’s Ben Cook explores swagger and sweetness on two new records

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UPDATE Friday, November 1, 4 PM: Line-up has changed for both concerts and Vivian Girls and Young Guv will not be performing either show. Refunds available at point of purchase; visit the Empty Bottle’s site for more information.

Toronto’s Ben Cook is well-known as the front man for early aughts tough-guy hardcore outfit No Warning and as the third guitarist in posteverything punk collective Fucked Up, but the bulk of his discography consists of a seemingly unending stream of multifaceted solo releases under the alias Young Governor, which he often shortens to Young Guv. Starting in 2008 with the seven-inch “Virginia Creeper” and the EP Hidden Love, Young Guv at first tilted toward frenetic, Jay Reatard-flavored one-man garage punk with a heavy dose of melody. But Cook has been expanding on this formula ever since, delving into Cure-style goth pop on the 2009 single “Bedtime Stories,” Mats worship on 2011’s Where It’s Quiet, dance-pop on his singles as Yacht Club, and lo-fi electro funk on last year’s 2 Sad 2 Funk. This summer’s Guv I (Run for Cover) features Cook’s best work yet. With a running time of only 22 minutes, the album is an all-too-quick glammy power-pop trip whose songs lurch like T. Rex and glimmer like Big Star, with the sharpest hooks and melodies on a rock record this year. Last week, Cook released a companion to Guv I called Guv II, which skews a bit more calm and introspective than the stomp and swagger of its predecessor. Instead it suggests a modern-day R.E.M. or the Byrds, and its twinkling songs feel warm and lived-in. All the sides of Young Guv are excellent—even as Cook strays further from his punk roots, he’s still the best at whatever the hell he’s doing.   v

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