Picture, it: Grand Valley State University between 1998 and 2003. Twenty years ago-ish. Yellow Card, Sum 41 and Third Eye Blind were in heavy rotation on the airwaves and constantly echoing in the ears of a chubby college kid with a passion for music, reading and writing. That same young man now donates his thoughts to a music magazine and is sure Dude York missed the genre boat by almost two decades.
The music is good, perfectly mirroring the sounds from a generation that has faded into Billboard ether. It is a muted punk sound, almost like a talented high school garage band with a fair amount of angst brimming below the surface. With kick ass guitar and bass playing alongside a tight, hot drum and vocals that fall just short of annoying and whiny, Dude York brings an awesome variety to a nearly forgotten style. Thankfully, their talent is shown in a full spectrum of range, as the trio mixes up the rules to meet their own creativity; instead of them living within the style, it breathes within them.
Though not “fresh” to seasoned ears, for the curious music lovers of the present day, this overview would be a great introduction to a zenith gone before their parents were even fully adults. It’s a gateway album, really, opening the doors to the last age of musical authenticity before computers assimilated the sound and began creating popularity. Between the well-written lyrics (“my stars will never line up, they only know how to glow”), you can hear the social angst digging its way out, singing about the emotions of those who don’t always win the trophies, the relationships or the gold stars. And when they do, there’s still a rain cloud on the horizon. These are the anthems of the mediocre: those who aren’t the bullies or the victims. This is the type of music that people listen to when they hang out together on a dark porch on a Saturday night not because they didn’t get invited to the party, but because they didn’t want to go.
Despite providing the perfect background sounds to a Katie Holmes or Josh Harnett movie, the group has relit the lighthouse beacon to keep the style alive not only for this crop of listeners, but for the next harvest season, as well. The tracks are a little hard, a little soft and a little in-between, but their skills pay homage to everything that came before them. Dude York may never be popular, but they will always be good. Sincerely.