The Young Friends – Hella

The Young Friends – Hella

The San Diego beaches are definitely some of the nicest beaches in the entire United States. Not only does the beach provide a calm and placid experience that can be both invigorating and refreshing but they also punctuate the town’s overall laid-back, cool demeanor. Everything from the lazy boardwalk stroll, to the nearby stores, to the ridiculously good restaurants makes for nostalgic longing.

With such feelings comes a wave of music simply known as surf music and it’s quickly becoming a worthy new genre under the massive umbrella of pop/rock. But for Andrew McKee and Brant Stuns of The Young Friends, two long-time friends from Arizona, it also holds a strongly singular connection. After deciding to road trip to the beaches of San Diego, the duo felt compelled to make the same kind of music that they envisioned when contemplating the lovely beaches. And although they claim to not be familiar with this kind of loosely composed, loosely layered surf music, their debut, Hella, suggests otherwise.

With their guitars plugged in but never thunderous and with the swaying of the waves resonating below, McKee and Stuns make downright fantastic music. Each member carries a distinct sound but they mostly play off each other with dueling guitar parts that argue against each other, support each other and at the same time, compliment each other. And for the most while, the music is upbeat and splendidly catchy; each song provides a kick drum and a few subtle touches for differentiation. But in the end, it’s the album’s cohesive sunny sound that permeates the strongest and fortunately, it’s a wonderfully awesome smell.

Much like the water found on the beaches, McKee and Stuns are vigorously refreshing in every aspect of their sound: from the music to the lyrics. The subject matter never tires with songs that chronicle a teenager’s daily thoughts. And though they’re teenagers themselves, the duo never shies away from being genuinely open. On “Make Out Point” they sing, “just go ahead and ask her out,” while the guitars brim with energy; there is always one singer on top, while the other sings in the background, in support. And after he’s gotten her, the next song, “I Won’t Break Your Heart,” justifiably proves that he isn’t playing around – even if there are playful handclaps and a relentless hi-hat bouncing around. This lightheartedness goes a long way and it brilliantly lends itself to an album that is solidly strong.

The production, especially, brings the guitars to the front and allows them to breathe, while the drums are placed near the center of the sound. Each vocalist is then brought forth to evoke the tales of their bike rides on the boardwalk. Hella ends up as a prime remembrance of how a little road trip can conjure up deep passions. And even if others’ trips to California don’t always bring forth fruition, The Young Friends can rest assure that they’re mini-trip did wonders for them.