August 02, 2002

The Yayhoos "Fear Not the Obvious"

You want to know what the damn problem is with music today? I'm in a "tell it like it is" kind of mood tonight, so I'll just come out and say it. The greatest problem with most independent music today stems from the fact that said bands do not understand the concept of "fun." Many bands see this simple, three-letter word as some sort of bad, evil presence, one that certainly hinders their dour, "look at me, I'm more than a musician, I'm a 'serious artist'" attitude. At the end of the day, though, these self-appointed artists would do better to just sell their equipment and head off somewhere in a corner to die.

Harsh words, yes, but these are dire times. It's about time that someone said that the emperor's buck nekkid, and the Yayhoos have done so. See, The Yayhoos are a rock band, and that's all they are. There's nothing to second-guess about them, there's not a drop of irony, it's all sincere. Dan Baird, head Yayhoo, isn't doing anything he hasn't done for the past 20 years. See, some of you kids may not remember Georgia Satellites, and that's a damn shame, too. Back in the mid-80's, they had a great Southern Rock hit, "Keep Your Hands To Yourself." When they folded, he released a solo album, which sounded like a Georgia Satellites record, too.

While the Yayhoos aren't trying to sound like the Satellites, they do have that same kind of sound, due in large part to Baird's quite distinctive vocals--a high-pitched rasp that borders between alto and awesome. Every time he sings, you can easily hear his gap-toothed smile. He's havin' a helluva fun time, and his cohorts are, too. Because Baird's such a distinct singer, the only time Fear Not the Obvious falters is when the other Yayhoos--bass player Keith Christopher, drummer Terry Anderson, and guitarist Eric Ambel--take their turn at the mic. Not that they sing poorly, but because Baird's such a strong presence, their songs seem slightly awkward, if not a little derivitive of Baird's style. Either way, it's all good, and is only a minor quibble.

Well, Fear Not the Obvious is the sound of four guys gettin' together for the love of the music. That's all. It's been a long time since you've heard of a band doing that, isn't it? Art for entertainment's sake, and that's a good thing in this day and age of crapola that gets labeled as "music." It's nice to know that there are people out there who won't make a video, hire hype-machines to talk about how great their music is, and who aren't doing thing to satisfy a little clique of people. I'd like to see any of these po-faced bands write something as rockin' as "Oh! Chicago" or "Hankerin'." They can't begin to touch The Yayhoos. With these guys, their Southern-bred, blues-rock with a hint of salvation on the side and a bit of beer in their bellies is something that could never be're either the real deal, or you just ain't.

I was saddened to read that Fear Not the Obvious will be a one-off release. Still, in this polarized music world, The Yayhoos were a breath of fresh air, and sounded like they were one helluva fun live band. Maybe this split will be temporary; maybe they'll hit the road again. As for now, though, Fear Not the Obvious is one helluva dirty, greasy, yet sexy corpse.

--Joseph Kyle

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