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September 20, 2017


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Young Fresh Fellows vs. The Minus 5
Because We Hate You / Let The War Against Music Begin (Mammoth Records)

By: Alex Steininger


What we have here is a two-disc set from Young Fresh Fellows' main man Scott McCaughey. The first disc is his new project, The Minus 5, which features performances by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, The Posies' Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, The Presidents' Jason Finn, Robyn Hitchcock, and a whole slew of other notable musicians. Disc two is all the Young Fresh Fellows, delivering the power-pop as they see fit.

The premise behind this album is pitting the two against each other. With the primary songwriter being the one and only Scott McCaughey, having the two bands go toe to toe is a bit silly. This is because, as you can guess, both bands sound very similar. The Minus 5 deliver more jangle-y pop and the Young Fresh Fellows are more about the rock. However, when you break it down, they are pretty much the same band stuck in a schizophrenic state of mind.

But, if it were a fight, The Minus 5 would win, hands down. Their songs are catchier, more warm, and seem to have more heart in them. And, as we all know by watching the Rocky series, heart wins, even when you're a small white guy going up against a huge Russian giant.

That's not to say the Young Fresh Fellows' hearts aren't in the game. That is the furthest thing from the truth. They still manage to rock and carve out powerful pop songs that get stuck in your head. It's just that the Minus 5 are that much more addictive. Each Minus 5 song is an individual pop nugget that, once you taste, you can't have just one.

True, the Young Fresh Fellows are like this, too, just not to the same extent. They're too busy burying the pop behind louder guitars. It's like Minus 5 are the uninhibited band here. McCaughey seems to feel the urge to cloud up Young Fresh Fellows' songs with guitar noise and power, whereas with Minus 5 he polishes the songs and gives them their proper pop sparkle.

Both discs are excellent though. And with so much music to enjoy, you'll be listening to this classic two-disc set for some time, jumping back between the two, and enjoying every minute of it. I'll give this album an A.

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