YOUNG JESUS – ” Shepherd Head “

Posted: September 10, 2022 in MUSIC

Young Jesus, is brainchild of Chicago born, now Los Angeles based singer/songwriter John Rossiter, has long been a difficult band to describe, and on its forthcoming sixth album Shepherd Head, the project’s sonic tent is bigger than ever. Rossiter explains in press notes that while recording the Welcome to Conceptual Beach follow-up on his MacBook, he incorporated everything from nearby dog howls and voice memo mistakes to flowing rivers and singing strangers: “Whatever wanted to be in came in.” This inherent embrace of the world that birthed it imbues Shepherd Head with an abundant sense of peace.

Even for a band that has shapeshifted throughout its history, “Shepherd Head” feels like a departure for Young Jesus. After completing the mathy, jazzy epic “Welcome to Conceptual Beach” in 2020, the band were burnt out, and lead John Rossiter decided to take a different tack. Working primarily alone, armed with a Macbook, a microphone and a newfound patience, he began to piece together songs from found sounds, audio recordings and white noise. The result is, at least stylistically, a glimpse at Young Jesus in a different form—a stripped-back singer-songwriter approach wrapped in meditative electronic pop, more interested in the emotional, or even spiritual, than the cerebral.

It’s a record which faces up to fear and grief but somehow feels suffused with hope, a personal, quasi-solo record that feels anything but lonely (with cameos from friends dotted throughout, including collaborations with Tomberlin and Arswain). As we wrote in a preview of lead single ‘Ocean’ back in the summer, “Shepherd Head” is “a tapestry both vulnerable and tender, where great loss and transcendence are not so different after all.”

The lead single “Ocean,” featuring not only Tomberlin, but also former Young Jesus members Marcel Borbón Peréz and Peter Martinez (the band’s original drummer), “There’s a sense of cosmic scope to the track, as well as everyday earthliness (Rossiter layers footsteps and leaves crunching into the track as texture), but what ultimately pervades it most is a sense of preternatural calm. ‘Go / Give your life unto the weave / To the fabric and the seam / To the drift of what you’ll be,’ Rossiter and Tomberlin urge, as if in worship of the unseen forces that govern all, not in spite of their unknowability, but because of it.” Rossiter himself all but disappears into these songs, as if channelling something far larger than himself—than any one of us. 

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