We wrote a brief something about Portland’s Young Elk upon the release of their previous album, The Dark Side of the Holy Ghost. The record, inspired by a near-death experience and subsequent crisis of faith of lead Ezekial J. Rudick, took “the slow-burn bitterness of Bazan, add[ed] the sinister undercurrent of Water Liars and sprinkl[ed] an almost Berningerian knack for imagery both mundane and melodramatic.” From the furious challenge of TV evangelists and preachers of faith on opener ‘God is Cruel’ to the hopeless, death-obsessed closer ‘No Lights’, The Dark Side was something of an existential exorcism, a purging of all comforts and fantasies, stripping life back to its cold, bare facts.
Rudick and co. are back with a brand new 7″ single, ‘Cheap Beer’, to be released on the cassette and vinyl-only label, Holiday Breath records. Speaking about the song, they explain:
“[The track is a] love/hate song dedicated to frontman and principal songwriter, [Rudick’s] hometown of Rainier, Washington. The song laments the impending realities of our mortalities, juxtaposed against the backdrop of a redneck small town in the pacific northwest.”
The song opens with slow piano but soon develops into a half-paced indie rock number, Rudick’s distinctive vocals conveying his unique blend of sincerity and cynicism. As such, ‘Cheap Beer’ is bathed in a kind of resigned sadness, born of a long-held struggle between understanding the world as tragic and trying to find beauty or at least empathy within its futile grind.
“I could try to comprehend
everyday when it begins
or how my last days here will end
while my grandma’s ashes rest
in some urn I’ve never seen
covered in old magazines
in some town where old men drink
cheap beer while they go fishing”
If that doesn’t sound good enough, the single is backed up with a b-side cover of Low’s ‘Murderer’, which the band describe as ‘brutal’.
‘Cheap Beer’ is out on the 17th February via Holiday Breath Records and you can pre-order it now from the Young Elk Bandcamp page, including on vinyl.