Guest Contributor: Michael Dallas Miller
Few things in rock and roll are more fascinating than the idea and process behind creating The Bedroom Album. Somehow more redeeming than The Rehab Album. More honest than any Returning-To-Humble-Roots Albums and more gripping than Epic Albums. Young Man (whose real name is Colin Caulfield) accomplished his first short collection of spare and sprawling tunes surrounded by four walls, used-bookstore copies of English and French literature, and with the Chicago skyline as his constant backdrop.
The Boy EP is his bedroom album, and like all other Bedroom Albums, it marks a beginning; it sets the trajectory. And, if this writer has anything to say about it, this guy’s rocket ship of easy-going, smooth-flowing tunes is heading to the Planet of High Quality Music. This EP stands is the perfect example of how talent will grow and thrive in today’s music industry–a music industry nearly completely in the caring hands of the Napster generation.
The mop-topped Caulfield, as the story’s been told, was discovered through a Youtube video by Deerhunter frontman, Bradford Cox. Caulfield was singing “Rainwater Cassette Exchange,” and Cox declared that it was better than his original. What makes our generation of music so incredible is its perfect justice and democracy. Anyone can be discovered on Youtube (think of any number of little kids playing “Johnny B. Goode” or ukulele covers of Jason Mraz), but our artists still must be chosen; you still must create something worthwhile.
Boy is carried from minute one to the final note by Caulfield’s high-range vocals and sweet deliver. What makes the EP nearly perfect is how he employs the even sweeter hooks and melodies. Opener “Five” establishes the at-home sound quality and such a timeless swing, you’d hardly believe it wasn’t made by some sun-dried pop group from 1968. Similarily,“Up So Fast” is a pitch-perfect closing track and punctuates each song before it with a humble “!”.
These are easy-to-follow tunes, with easy-to-grip song and narrative structures. But that does not make them immature or simplistic. Songs like “Playtime” and “Home Alone” float in your mind and seem to shift in meaning and weight depending on when and where you listen. They were built with room to expand, to grow with the listener. Caulfield takes the enormous theme of Growing Up, rings it out, and drips the essence of youth, youthfulness, youthful angst and youthful joy into seven well-crafted pop tunes. The maturity of Boy is not in its boldness, but the bold surrender of forcing the listener into what can be such an emotional cliché.
Caulfields’s future seems bright. He will tour this winter in the Midwest with Langhorne Slim and others. And, if this writer has anything to say about it, he will tour from New York to Texas in the Spring, opening for bigger and better groups. He’ll eventually drive up through California and make it to a small venue near me in the Pacific Northwest.
Young Man may grow up, but his sound will never be senile. He may get hard of hearing, but he will never be hard to hear.