There’s something downright hypnotic about “Baby’s First Steps,” the penultimate track on Young Hunting’s Hazel. The arpeggiated opening chords are one knob-turn away from the Spaghetti Western setting, the audial equivalent of staring at the heat evaporating on a sandy horizon, and Hari Rex’s baritone, haunting second-person lyrics pull you right into that hazy line between earth and sky. Add in some harmonizing from Ilya Mxx, and it’s apparent the desert in question is deep in the heart of Southern California. The journey ends with a solo from Rex, brevity its only fault.
Many of the tracks on this 2013 vinyl release from Gold Robot Records leave you wanting more, like being on a mild hallucinogen where your only stress is the knowledge that it won’t last forever. Mxx and Rex’s songwriting stands tall with the backbone of drummer Miles Senzaki and bassist Patrick Taylor, and master-of-many-trades Tim Philips fills out the sound with synth, keys and horns. From the throbbing “Rust” to the crooning “Sweet Bird” to the anthemic “Maze,” these are songs that float away and pop.
Call it chill wave, psych folk, dream pop — whatever you want. This is Southern California music, brokered at the imaginary crossroads of Twentynine Palms Highway and the PCH.