When I first received an deceivingly plain packaged packaged from a Brian Esser (Yip 2), with a fresh new copy of their latest self released album “Bone Up,” I had no idea what to expect. Moreover, I should say I was pleasantly surprised to receive a perfectly intact 1988 holographic Pee Wee’s Playhouse sticker and matching Topps postcard along with a picture of two half naked yips on the cover of Orlando Weekly where they were interviewed earlier this year. Apparently, this year also marks the 10 year anniversary of Orlando’s critically acclaimed freak-chic, costumed electronic heroes Yip Yip. I am admittedly a newer fan, having first seen them live at last year’s Nerdapalooza event. With that being said, let’s not spend much time dwindling in the past, or trying to compare Bone Up to any any of their previous works like “Two Kings of the Same Kingdom” or “Candy Dinner” or anything else.
Reason for that being that “Bone Up” being Yip Yip’s seventh album, is an all new entity in it’s own. Sure you could call it “experimental” or “nerd wave” but labeling bands in a box is flat out wrong, and can really limit someone’s perception on some amazing artists like Yip Yip. In January 2011, we got a teaser of the “big steps” Yip Yip is taking in their musical direction from their surprisingly straight forward cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing.” The cover track from Jane’s Addiction’s “Ritual De Lo Habitual” highlighted Yip Yip’s newly found use of vocals and more focused songwriting efforts. Musically speaking, “Bone Up” is Yip Yip’s attempt at writing original, catchy, fun pop songs you wanna poke with a stick on repeat. Yip Yip’s zany style of music makes this sort of behavior a regular occurrence amongst Yip Yip fans, which in this case is a totally good thing. This comes from party boys who would host banana eating contests which usually ended in blood, and the same kids who would record their first album in a month after regularly meeting in eerily quiet local hospital cafeteria. The album is chock full of toy synthesizer sounds, massively tweaked Moog synthesizer leads, and filtered vocals all which conglomerate together to create a thrilling organic blend of vintage electronic music (using hardware instruments), mixed with the nerdy and spazzy musings of legendary nerd punk icons Devo, and others avant-underground legends Melt-Banana and Atari Teenage Riot just to name a few.
To compare Yip Yip to other acts is not necessary though. Yip Yip is a band (2-piece) with a unique personality and identity, which makes them standout from ego-centric laptop wizards, and overly pretentious trust fund kids who make a few recordings and call it a day. “Bone Up” is the rousing first track on the album which starts the record off with a bang. It is actually an older song which has been released before hand, a live performance video “Bone Up, Live In The Yip-Yip Room” gathering over 7,000 views on YouTube alone. The spasm inducing YouTube video is filled with startling optical illusions, and it can induce seizures if caution is not taken. I don’t think Yip Yip spends much time connecting their trademark black and white checkerboard designs and seizures though. Coming from the Yipsters, (no puns intended), in their song “Copycat” they say that “It is impossible to be completely original and that they will call you a Copycat.” While it sounds youthful at first, it is a deeply intellectual number discussing an artist’s point of view on people being influenced by other artists and its current state of affairs. Everything has been done before, nothing is totally original. Yip Yip encourages us to “Analyze and Dissect it instead because we are all copycats.” This is a valid point which isn’t new to anyone these days, but it makes for a hell of a dance song filled with bouncy synthesizers, funky saxophones, with a mind numbingly infectious repetitive vocal hook on a smart pop song. Keep in mind this IS, Yip-Yip we’re talking about, so don’t confuse it with some bro-step obsessed party banger or anything, Yip-Yip is an artistic entity all in its own class of greatness. “Yo Noid” reveals in it’s title about the subject of paranoia, and being deliousionally irrational. Yip-Yip capitalizes on this, creating a whirlwind of chime sounds and a bouncy drum break section changing time signatures to make you switch up your dance moves upon listening to this dizzying cut. “Hot Plop” is another highlight selection revealing the mindset of the storied “perfectionists” and the time they waste being “perfectionists.” Any self appreciating artist can understand this subject, especially if you spend long hours and weeks on evolving projects that you simply run out of ideas for. Sometimes, “happy accidents” are better than those time consumings “perfections” and “second guessings.” “Apes Ahoy” is another favorite, which is one of the more accessible tracks you can sing along to, which compares people to apes, who try to be the top ape, and that we all have chimps on our shoulders. Maybe the advanced intelligence of the simians in Planet of the Apes will refer humans with a slightly higher regard after hearing this one. Apes aside the album comes to a close with “Day Off” which celebrates the opportunities working individuals have and reveals insight as to what many people do on those specially cherished days off work. Banana eating contests anyone?
Any part Yip-Yip’s work is truly meant to be heard as a whole in all means, possible. Sometimes that wholeness is questionable, but the weirdness that surrounds Yip-Yip is only natural and complementary to the experience you get with Yip-Yip. “Bone Up” is no exception, even the viral video promotional campaign Yip-Yip is using for the album is quite interesting and intriguing to say in it’s own right. The innovative but retro videos take the style of fuzzied vintage video-cassette tapes and places them in a wildly fractal and colorful Yip-Yip kaleidoscope creating psychedelic mind trips seen through lo-fi resolution. Not much is known about their filming methods are or what equipment they are using to create these warped visuals, however it is always entertaining to see and it adds character to Yip Yip’s already well established form of alien geek-chic weirdness our checkerboard wearing costumed friends are known best for. “Bone-Up” is a smart pop record, for those who like to think on the wilder side of pop music. It’s songs are amusing, confusing, and refusing, refusing to go unheard in a world where people have become too concerned with playing it safe and being conventional. While Yip-Yip has embraced more traditional songwriting methods on this release, they are still a band that likes to push buttons (literally and mentally), and create wildly thrilling music for open-minded individuals who have a knack for crazy in their musical taste. Hopefully this masterpiece of a record will be the one to bring Jason Temple (Yip 1) and Brian Esser (Yip 2) back to Europe where they toured years ago, along with their many winnings of Orlando Weekly’s “Best Electronic Act” award, they have won nearly every year since their existence. So put on this album and enjoy the ride, and make sure you order a couple boxes of pizza to go with it, you’ll need every slice you can get. Don’t forget the bananas either.
-Chris Big Money (music blogger/reviewer and artist)
Yip Yip- Bone Up “Live From The Yip-Room”
Yip-Yip “Hot Plop”