“Baby’s First Steps” – Young Hunting
Pretty great introduction to this one, yes? Some songs just wrap you up in them right away. Bonus points here for brevity: we get the tightly coordinated, rhythmic interplay between lower-register, minor-key guitar arpeggios and a pulse-like tom tom for all of about 10 seconds; then come the vocals. All too many songs hang onto notably less interesting instrumental motifs for a lot longer before deciding to get started.
“Baby’s First Steps” is a nicely dramatic song in general, with its minor-key gravitas and apparently chorus-free structure—we get a wordless vocal section in between each verse until, after the third verse, we are finally delivered the chorus. (Delayed gratification is an under-utilized pop music tool.) But what lies at the heart of the song’s drama is the drumming, which is minimal, atmospheric, and potent. Launched on the juxtaposition of a steady yet stuttering rhythm, the song somehow seems to move faster than its own beat, if that makes any sense (it might not). This central sonic paradox feeds a number of related contradictions: the song feels at once smooth and itchy, calm and ominous, moody and defiant. The drumming is incredibly succinct; most of the drum kit remains unused for most of the song—we get one cymbal bash at 1:02, another at 1:13, but then we’re back to the tom, now with a purposeful shaker of some sort anchoring the relentless beat. Cymbals don’t enter regularly until the two-minute mark, when the drummer finally opens up a bit, but we still don’t get anything that feels like “normal” rock’n’roll drumming until two-thirds of the way through the song. This is also when the guitars move at last towards the front of the mix, but we have to wait even longer, until the last 30 seconds, for the (very effective) guitar solo. That’s discipline, baby.
Young Hunting is a five-piece band from Los Angeles. “Baby’s First Steps” is a song from the band’s debut full-length album, Hazel, slated for a June release on Oakland-based Gold Robot Records. The band previously put out a seven-inch single in 2010. Thanks to Gold Robot for the MP3.