young republic Balletesque (CD, £6.75)label: End of the Road Records
It's Been a Hard, Tough Year, sings frontman Julian Saporiti. That is something of an understatement. Having completed their studies at Berklee College of Music, Saporiti moved his then 8 piece country pop orchestra back to his beloved hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Having found success across the pond with their debut 12 Tales From Winter City, a sort of greatest hits package of their home recordings, and some storming live shows, the band set to work on what was to become their proper debut album. By the time SXSW 2008 had finished the band was battered, bruised and down to a six piece. Most bands would have fallen apart. But not The Young Republic. Rather it galvanized them. They returned to their Sky Mountain Studio in Nashville to start afresh on their record. The subject matter of Balletesque mines the depths of the American historical consciousness, past and present. Characters of salesmen, bootleggers, preachers, outlaws, western poets and actors all search for theirs in settings of depression era New England, bloody, war-rattled Texas and mid-century Middle America. Trains, oil, blood, snake handlers, boats, loose women. America, black and white, red and blue. To dig beyond the fiction and folk yields Saporiti personal insight. Betrayal and loss are common threads and certainly reflect on the bandmates whose loss defined the previous year. His observations of an unstable country and what it is to be a youth on such shaky ground, loom lyrically large. But perhaps the main theme of Balletesque is the realisation and acceptance that sometimes you lose, you don't get it back and life goes on. In The Young Republic's case, their losses - bandmates, tours, sleep, time - have yielded a stronger unit that is hitting its stride. A band that is all too rare these days. A band of musicians. A band that can play. Balletesque was mixed by Grammy Award winner Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse). "If the Pixies made country music, they'd sound a lot like (The) Young Republic" - Phil Alexander, Editor of MOJO Magazine. "The storm of ideas and sounds spins around singer Julian Saporiti... wild, mad, entirely their own and proof of their incredible potential. Catch them while you can" - The Guardian.
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