Living in an America beset by a dwindling job market, insipid reality television, a deteriorating environment, a health care crisis, a meth epidemic, terror warnings, inflated gas prices, a religious right run amok, a U.S. Congress in the pocket of big business, and a Supreme Court being stacked to slowly dismantle all the civil liberties we once took for granted can be mighty depressing. It almost makes me wanna crawl in a hole and hibernate until the year 2009. But rather than dwell on the negative, I prefer to appreciate those things that bring joy to my life - like grilled onions, full-figured women in tight jeans, and The Colbert Report. To this list I’d like to add Young People With Faces. It just warms my heart to know that there’s a group of teenagers in the middle of Idaho obsessing over the old punk music I hold so dear. In this day and age when youth rock is dominated by gothic fashion, nu metal gloom, and the outright awfulness of all things emo, how does it happen that four high schoolers end up worshipping at the altar of the Ramones, Weirdos, Blondie, and Avengers? I mean, how cool is that?! These kids hate their generation as much as I do!

Too many ’77 style punk bands today sound like they’re ripping off ‘90s punk bands who already ripped off ‘70s punk bands. From all the Stitches knockoffs and wannabe Briefs, you’re getting an imitation of an imitation. But that’s not the case with Young People With Faces. Their debut CD could easily pass for a demo recorded “back in the day”. And it’s not just the great-sounding recording (done live in the studio on analog tape without any overdubs whatsoever) that makes this foursome sound so authentically old school. The playing (effectively crude, and not too fast) and singing (Sophia Dilley’s style is a good mix of Debbie Harry cool and Penelope Houston snarl) evoke a feel that new punk bands sometimes attempt but rarely attain. If pre-fame Blondie had turned down their major label deal, listened obsessively to the Stooges, moved to L.A., and put out a single on Dangerhouse Records, they definitely would have sounded like Young People With Faces.

Perhaps the most likable thing about Young People With Faces is how humble they are about what they do. Their description of their music (“very much in the vein of our heroes - though not as good”) is so dead-on that very little else needs to be said. They don’t affect some sort of “Hey! Look how ‘77 we’re dressed!” pose in their band photos. They’re just normal-looking kids playing the music that they love. Admittedly, they are not yet a great band. But they’re a really fucking good one, and their 13-song debut doesn’t offer up a single weak track. The group’s influences are all over this disc. “Sick Girl” (the best song on the album) recalls The Avengers. “Piece of Meat” brings to mind early Stooges. “Getting Hit On” could pass for an outtake from the first Blondie LP. “Unloveable People” sounds like Dangerhouse-era X. And after hearing the ‘77 punk tribute number “IHateYou”, you damn well know that at least one member of this band owns the Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch 7".

All in all, Young People With Faces is a fun, solid punk rock album. I think the band’s own assessment of the CD is perfect - “kinda crude, but (we hope) still pretty rockin’”. Yep, that nails it. With its no-frills three-chord bashing and simple lyrics articulating the teenage experience, it’s the kind of album you would have expected four 17-year-olds to crank out 30 years ago. The fact it was recorded just last year is what makes it so remarkable.

Now Wave (Lord Rutledge)
January 23, 2006

This band is a trip. Being from Idaho and looking like extras on Dawson’s creek, they sure dish out some cool sloppy punk. Dangerhouse all the way with the singing of a gutter existance. Three gals and a guy. Cheapo production in tribute to X, the AVENGERS, and the BAGS. I only hope they break up before they make their Combat Rock.

Maximum RocknRoll #272 (RL)