What is Young Love? Just peek at the New York band's myspace page. You'll find this brief but amusing overview:
"Los angeles good times tequila rock bands austin day cruiser van smoke machines tour trafalgar hollywood oakwoods why are dudes wearing makeup everyone knows everyone brooklyn night clubs whiskey white suits bright lights miami island cutting rugs london finishing the record"
"That's the last two or three years of my life, with a bit of childhood thrown in," says Dan Keyes, frontman and musical tour de force behind Young Love. Not only does that word collage work as a history of the group, but it also serves as a good primer on the band's sound, which can only be described as "now, but different."
Strange but true: You may have heard these songs before. A couple of the tracks, only available on the Internet, have filtered out into NYC's clubs over the past few months. Stranger: if you really know Keyes, you may be surprised it's him behind these songs.
It was only two years ago when the multi-talented musician was a member of Recover, a buzzworthy young band from Austin, Texas. Their melodic post-punk sound landed the group a major label deal, a dedicated nationwide fan base and much critical acclaim. But Keyes had other things (or, actually, other songs) on his mind.
"I love those guys, and I'm still close with them, but I was at a creative crossroads," remembers Keyes. "I knew I had to change something about my life."
Fate intervened. During a birthday party, a New York friend of Keyes made the musician an offer he couldn't refuse. "He said, 'I have a room free up here. Be here in a week and a half.' And I had always wanted to move to New York, even as a kid."
So Keyes left a town full of great musicians and good friends to move to a strange and wonderful new place … to bus tables. "I moved up here with one bag and my guitar," he says. "And I mean that literally." Fortunately, his bag contained a few demos and rough sketches for songs, which would eventually serve him well.
While doing time at a high-end midtown restaurant ("Catering to rich white people that spoke to me like I didn't know English"), Keyes started thinking more about those unfinished songs. They were good songs, but they hadn't fit in with any of his previous bands. They were danceable, unpredictable, catchy and even thematic. They were, in essence, the origins of what would become Young Love.
"That band name actually hit me years ago," he says. "I knew if I had another band, it would be called Young Love. It's not two words just randomly thrown together. The name is an idea, and all of my songs reflect that."
Guitars, while present on Young Love's debut, are merely a side note in the band's sound. "And that's the funny thing," says Keyes. "I wrote these all on an acoustic guitar; some of them even sound like country.
But once Keyes hit the studio, things changed as he and his bandmates started tinkering with the songs. "Discotech", the infectious first single that's already requested in NYC night clubs, is now sonically more in tune with its name, featuring a dance beat - squealing guitar combo that fits comfortably into the New York underground … while never emulating it. And the propulsive "Find a New Way" is Keyes, as he puts it, "trippin' out on a Microkorg keyboard."
"That was written a couple of years ago," admits Keyes. "I had just turned 21, and I was going out to bars and clubs, and realizing how much fun it is. Actually, a lot of these songs are just about nightlife, and the other half are about love. It all sounds really positive, even if you really listen to the lyrics and see that it's not always the case."
Meanwhile, "Tragedy" shows off a darker side, with the guitars a little noisier and the mood stark. "That song is too crazy to even describe," says Keyes
Keyes, who is currently assembling a band to tour with this summer, ultimately sees Young Love as a culmination of hard work, taking chances and allowing himself the chance to write the music that's been knocking around his head for years.
"This record has been a long time coming," says Keyes, "These songs have existed with me for so long. I'm excited to get them out there. And I hope people get excited by them: I feel like I'm just the instrument to give the songs to everyone."