CD Review: Yo Soybean

Those sunny sounding folk-popsters Yo Soybean have finally let loose their album Manifest Blasphemy and, boy, was it worth the wait, however short it may have been. Listeners familiar with the band will notice a lot of energy transferred over from their live show to the record, a difficult feat for any band, much less one as fun as Soybean. Make sure to check out the band this FRIDAY at the Caledonia.

As always, a quick note about the artwork. I love the font and drawing on the front of the record. The color scheme works, though it might not have been the colors I would associate with the ‘Bean but in this case, it matches the slightly darker undertones of the record. Nicely done.

Anticipation A nice way to start up the record. The riff immediately gets stuck in your head and it’s a fun song to bounce around to.

Manifest Blasphemy Part 2 I love the chanted chorus “We’ll tell ’em all/ how we cheated the gods of fate.” It sounds like a call that all can take up, a collective fist shaken at all those who have said that it, whatever it was, couldn’t be done. HA! A rather low-key triumphant song, as if told by a weary traveller who just wants a nap before recounting the story.

Under the North West Moon If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like for a band on tour, this would be it. The uncertainty, the thankfulness that you’ll at least get food even if you don’t get paid, the feeling of loneliness… This would be the song you’d strum to yourself in a stranger’s living room before bed after a show. Very folksy, harmonica and all.

Neon Cowboy is possibly my favorite song on the record. Out and out country twangy tune about how the computer and internet change how we act and portray ourselves these days. Is there a disconnect we all carry now due to the internet? Are our lives ruled by the computer? Interesting concept.

This Was Just to Say is a beautiful tune with a memorable haunting string arrangement and female vocals that will keep you wanting more.

Song After Song is a familiar refrain if you’ve heard Nate Nelson’s work, but even if you have, Yo Soybean’s take on the craft of songwriting and being in a band is a fascinating look into the mind of the artist. This very open arrangement leaves a lot of sonic space, pushing the vocals up for full angsty effect.

Breathing Down Our Necks contains one of the best vocal performances on the entire record, using a male/female counterpoint backed by soft guitars to create an atmosphere that envelopes without overwhelming. Imagine lying on your back, looking at the stars, with fireflies lighting up the night. Such a beautiful song.

Paradise Found I’m fond of the beat behind this. It’s amazing what kind of rhythm you can get out of instruments and “Paradise” showcases what Soybean does best, “gather round the campfire and shout” stompers. You can’t help but join in.

Five Billion Rocks In The Pond Another low key one, sounds more like Nate Nelson than anything else. Never a bad thing, mind you.

Zig-Zag Town Another beautiful vocal performance. The melodic lines the vocals go through are interesting and lead you into places you normally wouldn’t guess. They go up when you think they’d go down and vice versa. It keeps things fresh. And a pretty nice end to the record.

Overall, Manifest Blasphemy is a fun folk romp through the minds of songwriters armed with late night guitars and an ear for vocal melody. This’ll really hit home for the Athens touring groups but anyone can relate to the wanderlust and wonder found here. Best heard when romping through the woods at dusk. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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