“Home of the Strange” celebrates diversity, provides new sound

Leah Dunne, co a&e editor


I’ve always been a fan of acoustic, wave like alternative rock music, mainly because of its ability to somehow always alleviate my stress and lift my spirits. When I heard that my favorite band of the sorts, Young The Giant, would be releasing their third studio album, Home of the Strange, on Aug. 12, the timing could not have been more perfect as my days of summer were slimming and my summer reading was accumulating.

With Young The Giant’s debut in 2011, the band exuberated young, diverse talent in their hit singles “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.” The unique cultural mesh is comprised of frontman Sameer Gadhia, first generation Indian- American and Stanford dropout, Persian-American bassist Payam Doostzadeh, and Canadian drummer Francois Comtois. Each help to solidify the roots of their third album, bringing attention towards the cultural diversity within their own group, and those within our nation at such a pertinent time of both social and political change.

In the album’s first single, “Amerika,” Gadhia sets the tone of uncertainty through washy waves and midtempo synths. Gadhia unravels American ideals, beginning with the greed that ensued those of the 1849 California Gold Rush, attracting many from faraway places arriving with “gold in their eyes.” Throughout the song, Gadhia works to unpack the pursuit of the American dream of a life of simplicity, yet reaches that American society is a “rich kid’s game,” bringing the piece full circle from the track’s monetary propositions from the start, rooted within the California Gold Rush.

While they introduced new sounds such as those in “Amerika,” they did not at all stray away from the pulse like beats and electro feel that encompassed Mind Over Matter, their second album released in 2014. Gadhia brought back that defined bass plucking and lyrical chants into their track “Something to Believe In,” reiterating the said empty promises within “Amerika.”

While I appreciate Gadhia’s effort to build off of his 2014 Mind Over Matter edge, I think one of the strongest aspects of this album was their ability to reign back into their roots of soft spoken, slow strumming tracks that we heard from their first album in 2011.

Gadhia’s “Titus Was Born” makes me feel a bit nostalgic as the light acoustic plucks begin the track, to then bring in his elongated, smooth vocals for a peaceful preach in song.

Similar to the change in tempo during the bridge of 2011’s “Cough Syrup,” “Titus Was Born” trades the slow acoustic strums for upbeat piano riffs, and a quickened tempo accompanied by deeper vocals and drums to end the song on a much more lively and awakened note than it had started.

In their third studio album, Gadhia and Young The Giant were successful in many aspects, producing a record just one year after releasing their second, and building upon that new experimental sound presented in 2014. But most successfully what Young The Giant was able to accomplish was translating their own cultural melting pot into skeptical, celebratory, mellow and charismatic tracks that work to break the existing boundaries within our society, at a time nationally and politically when it is key. Through channelling their old roots and producing singles that stem off new sounds as well, Young The Giant released yet another amazing piece that helped signify America, as stated in the track “Home of the Strange” as the “Land of the free, Home of the Strange.”