There’s a lot of well-deserved hype surrounding Hudson’s Yam Haus.
Their melodic, dreamy pop has been streamed nearly a million times on Spotify, they impressed at the 2018 Best New Bands showcase at First Ave, and the fresh synth-pop of their debut album Stargazer legitimized the hype.
Their most recent release, The Stargazer Sessions, takes a completely different approach. The layers of synths and big pop sound of Stargazer is replaced with acoustic guitars and sparse arrangements. For the EP they re-imagined six songs from their debut album in this format, in addition to a song that didn’t make the album, “Spoke Too Soon.”
The acoustic thing has been done a lot, but it’s always most interesting when a band that is so far from that sound gives it a shot. There isn’t a style of music further removed from acoustic music as synth-pop, so the success of the new arrangements has to do solely with the strength of the songs.
Yam Haus is up for the challenge. Their songs stand up with minimal arrangements because they are so strong melodically.
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“Stargazer” is a good example (click the link for an acoustic performance). It doesn’t seem like the funky, synth-heavy track will translate well when stripped of its big production. Surprisingly, though, the straightforward lyrics and catchy melody become even more powerful when they are front and center. “West Coast” is another highlight for the same reason.
Since it was left off Yam Haus’ debut album, there’s no full arrangement of “Spoke Too Soon” to compare it to. I wonder if there is one, as it doesn’t seem possible for the tender pop/rock song to work in their usual style. The band has been described as “Maroon 5 if they were still good.” “Spoke too Soon” is something like a combination of that and Ed Sheeran if he was ever good.
Intimate versions of “Kingdom,” “Get Somewhere,” “We are the Storm,” and “Carry Me Home” round out the EP.
It isn’t always easy to pull off intimate, acoustic versions of full band songs. Yam Haus does so with ease on their new Stargazer Sessions EP, providing another reason to believe the hype surrounding them. It’ll be interesting to see what direction their second album, due this fall, will take.
The EP release show for The Stargazer Sessions at the Aster Café on Friday, Feb. 9 is sold out.