Young People | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Young People

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While indie types like Will Oldham and the Handsome Family self-consciously tap into the raw beauty of American mountain music, the hillbilly sounds on the superb eponymous debut album by the LA trio Young People (released last year on 5 Rue Christine) seem genuinely unstudied, if not totally accidental. Though the catch in her throat may sound like it was cultivated in the Appalachians, Katie Eastburn's a city girl--she grew up in Nashville and now works with theater and dance companies in LA--and the sweet amateurishness that occasionally marks her singing is all indie rock. She didn't learn the Reverend Gary Davis's "Death Don't Have No Mercy" (which the band covers) because she was excavating folk history--she stumbled across it in a songbook while teaching herself guitar and the chords were easy to play. (She made up her own melody, since she'd never heard the original.) Nor are her bandmates strumming acoustic guitars and autoharps or plucking banjos--their primary influence seems to be the Velvet Underground. The thudding of ex-Get Hustle drummer Jarrett Silberman recalls the tom-heavy rumble of Moe Tucker, Eastburn's violin drones and scrapes are pure John Cale, and the jagged guitar lines supplied by Jeff Rosenberg (better known as half of the noisenik duo Pink and Brown) add color as his chords dissolve in feedback and distortion, a la "Sister Ray." The tension between this din and Eastburn's inviting vocals may eventually turn out to be nothing more than a good gimmick, but right now it works pretty well. Apples in Stereo headline. Friday, February 14, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

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