Sydney, Australia's Youth Group formed in the late '90s and released their first album back in 2001 on Australian label Ivy League Records (The Vines, Jet). However, that release, Urban & Eastern, never made it to US shores. Skeleton Jar is officially the band's second full length release, but for most Americans (including myself) it will be their first introduction to this band. The brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Toby Martin and drummer Danny Allen, Youth Group have put together a puzzle of melancholy pop perfection with their sophomore effort (one of those huge, 10 zillion piece puzzles). Not afraid to wear their emotions on their sleeves, Youth Group enclose their honest, thoughtful lyrics in an impenetrable fortress of anthemic indie rock beauty. Layered guitars, gravely but intimate vocals, catchy hooks and a bombastic rhythm section are at the core of this band. From album opener and should-be-hit-single (if we were as cool as European people) "Shadowland" to the sweetly serene, acoustic-driven, metaphorically-saturated closing track "Piece Of Wood", Skeleton Jar is an album you can easily listen to straight through and never once feel the urge to skip ahead to the "good stuff". This album is for fans of The Stills, Death Cab For Cutie, Fosters beer, Longwave, kangaroos, Nada Surf and boomerangs (Sorry, I just can't help myself when it comes to stereotypical Australian jokes).
-Reviewed by Matt DuFour