Over the last few years I have developed an unhealthy obsession with You Am I. I’m embarrassed to say that until around 2009 my knowledge of their contribution to the musical landscape was restricted to ‘Berlin Chair’ (call me a late bloomer, or just ignorant). However since then, their music has almost constantly played in the background of my life. In fact, there was a period last year when I lived in East Brisbane, and I would catch the City Cat to work, when I listened to Hourly Daily every weekday for almost six months. It put me in a good mood before a day of answering dull queries, or dealing with angry people for seven and a half hours, and it made all the bullshit melt away seven and a half hours later. I’m still not sick of it.
I even gave a copy of Hourly Daily to my sister and told her to listen to it when she needed cheering up. The lyrics are sad but the music is happy. It satisfies both my love of downbeat lyricism and brilliant pop song writing. Take ‘Tuesday’, a song from the point of view of someone with insomnia: “Tuesday comes and goes like any late night bus/I could do a lot more with my time/but you should hear what’s going on outside”. Has there been a more shining example of melancholy wrapped in beautiful pop music since The Beatles?
When I think of ‘Pop’ I don’t think of the latest American Idol or X Factor winner. To me, these are the McDonalds at the food court. Most people in the area will gravitate to it, buy it, consume it for 3 minutes, then expel it 12 hours later. Everyone needs a cheeseburger sometimes, but pop music to me is to be clung to and revered. It has something for every mood, every emotion. Hourly Daily does this for me.
In the last ten years You Am I have almost turned into this country’s Rolling Stones. They’ve definitely got the ‘loose but tight’ vibe down, have little regard for current musical trends, and regardless of what you think of Tim Rogers, he has amazing stage presence, kind of a combination of Mick’s swinging front man & Keith’s elegantly wasted rock star cool. Seeing them live recently certainly suggests that they’ll be going for a while longer yet, and on a good night they’re the best rock & roll band in Australia.
Over the years they’ve been a grunge band (they were never a grunge band)
An alternative rock band
A pop band
A punk band
and the great Stones/Faces influenced band they’ve been recently
I’m looking forward to hearing which musical incarnation of You Am I is on their next album.
While writing this piece I listened to Hourly Daily again. I don’t quite know how this record does what it does, or what was going through Tim Rogers’ head when he wrote it, but this album can be my wake-up coffee in the morning, a faithful dog walking with me during the day, or my bar buddy at night; and that’s probably the best recommendation I can give.
By Clint Morrow