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Rockin' Our Turntable: YAWN Remix

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on May 27, 2010 4:20PM


It may seem premature for a band with only a self-distributed EP to its name to be remixed, but then again, very few groups have the kind of buzz that Chicago quartet YAWN have. Like fellow art-minded popsters Netherfriends, YAWN are the beneficiaries of good timing, in addition to their musical talents. As a group, they very much traffic in the Beach Boy-harmonies-meets-African-rhythm amalgamation that’s put more nationally-known groups like Yeasayer and Animal Collective at the forefront of music nerd consciousness.

Perhaps as a way of keeping the hype-momentum going, YAWN gave away an 11-track remix EP as a download. Beginning with an inexplicable autotune-rap intro about the glory about receiving blow-jobs, (which, you know, not to imply an anti-hummer bias, but whose terrible idea was this?), amongst other vices, the EP starts in earnest with German remix artist GROOVEHAHN’s steel-drum rendition of “Toys.” The summery, Calypso vibe melds perfectly with the lullaby-like vocals to create the ideal jam for those sweltering Chicago summers. Elsewhere, producer Alex Baez gives “King of Guys” an M83-like electronic remix filled with grandiose keyboard flourishes, while B-Rox and Boxxxrdy contort the bassline and vocals of “David” to create a positively hallucinatory nightmare of dub and electronica.

Overall, YAWN Remix is nearly twice the length of the original YAWN EP, and not everything here works - The Druid Beat’s ambient take on “David” adheres a little too much to dance floor conventions. But what YAWN Remix does reveal is that producers and remixers who take chances with Yawn’s material truly can create something remarkable. It’s a lesson that hopefully the band itself will learn as it sets to release its second EP this summer.

YAWN play on Saturday, May 29, at The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western, 10 p.m., $8, 21+