Most music fans don’t play music themselves (the same goes for music writers). Since they don’t play music, chances are that even fewer of them know how to read music. This being the case, many don’t really speak the “language” of music. Sure, as the audience, we can pick out parts of the music that we like (or don’t like): Guitar solos stand out and, sometimes, bass lines do too. Even a few drummers have established themselves as household names. But for the most part, what really speaks to the average listener are the vocals.
A luke-warm song can be beefed up to a classic by simply adding memorable lyrics and a catchy vocal melody. Simply put, vocals are an easy way for bands to bring a song together.
Bloomington quartet You’re A Liar doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about vocals. After playing their aggressive hardcore/funk hybrid in bars and basements around the state, YAL seems pretty happy with taking the road less traveled.
What YAL lacks in the vocal department, they more than make up for with raw musical talent. On their first proper album, YAL ups the ante with over-the-top musician ship and, most importantly, killer riffs. Guitarist Charlie Thomas is without a doubt one of the greatest axmen living in Indiana right now. His long, lanky body (he’s gotta be pushing seven feet) and shaggy caveman hairdo create an almost mythical persona for him. A man of few words, Thomas, like YAL itself, tends to speak riffage as a first language.
The self-titled album explodes with the groovy jam, “Chew-E”. For fans of harder music, the tune will immediately call to mind the legendary stylings of At The Drive-In. With the help of 2nd guitarist Gabriel Garber, Thomas comes close to matching the fanatical sound of former ATDI and current Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López. But don’t think that YAL is merely coping ATDI’s style.
The second track, “Fleas I”, roars with a ballsy riff that could fill Shea Stadium and then shake it to pieces. The hammering drums and brooding bass augment the song better than any vocalist ever could. In fact, the rhythm section remains so solid throughout the rest of the album that it is important to note that they do not merely serve as back-up to Thomas’ six-string savagery; they shape the sound of the band as much as he does.
The true test of YAL’s prowess, however, is not their recording, but their live show. Any band worth their weight in guitar strings knows that the most important part of being a band is the live show. YAL knows this. Just watching the members’ fingers picking, plucking, sliding and slamming over their instruments is enough to mesmerize.
While Thomas may be doing double duty with his other riffy project, StepDads and bassist Eric Day spends a considerable amount of time with his up-and-coming indie rock band The Broderick, they still play fairly frequently in Indianapolis. If you ever get a chance to see them live, take it! You won’t regret it.
You can check out their bandcamp page HERE.