Album Cover
The Like Young
So Serious
June 01, 2004


Picture this: I walk into our small, Houston venue Fat Cat's to see Enon. I look around at the other ten people in the place, sitting at the bar and tables along the walls, and then there's The Like Young, the first of four bands that night, up on the stage playing their hearts out to a non-existent crowd. I felt sorry for them at first. Do all bands have to go through this kind of torture? How embarrassing. But then it caught me; these guys have got some spunk. Who cares about a crowd or fans, they were just playing for the sake of playing. They're in it for the music. The Like Young are a band that don't care about image, stardom, or breaking new ground, they are making the music that they like; Music they can have fun playing and hearing, with a giant crowd or alone in a basement. And really, isn't that what music should be about in the first place?

And, hey, these guys aren't half bad either. Loud, fast, catchy; I could really get into this. "They're nothing special, but I like it," I think. Unfortunately, they quickly finish after only about two more songs, too short of a time for me to draw any further conclusions. Anyways, while the next band played (horribly, I might add), my friend and I had a small chat with spouses Amanda and Joe Ziemba (who are The Like Young) in which we found out they were from Chicago etc. Then my friend makes some sort of comment like "You don't even have a bass player, what's with that? You need a bass player." I rolled my eyes, thinking, "No they don't." And then the words came out of Joe's mouth. Maybe they weren't this beautiful, maybe they weren't this grand, but in my head the statement sounded like this: "We just don't. That's how it's always been, and that's how we like it." He said it so nonchalantly; it made sense in my head. They are what they are, there's no point in trying to change just to fit the popular band mold. It's that kind of honesty and humbleness I can really admire a band for. I bought their album, Art Contest, and soon enough it became a fun, driving favorite. I went to see them open for Mates of State (at the time I didn't even know who Mates of State were), and, as Amanda swirled around her drum set and Joe punched away at his guitar, watched The Like Young captivate a sold out crowd as I looked around at the head nodding, smiling faces in the room.

As soon as their sophomore full length, So Serious, was released, I quickly snatched it up. So Serious isn't a carbon copy of Art Contest, but both are equally fun, chord and harmony driven rock. This time around, there's nothing arty about it, So Serious is less poppy, has less dual vocal harmonies, and, really, makes the band seem less young. The amazing thing is that with everything seeming lowered and decreased, The Like Young still blast out with the same force. So Serious, is louder, more diverse, more focused, and more dark. All the subtle differences still add up to the same twenty-four minutes -- a good, solid, fun record.

Album opener "Out to Get Me" blasts through the doors demanding attention, showing the band more confident and ready to rock your house than ever. "Worry a Lot" is perfection with its boy-girl trade off vocals and meticulously placed keyboards reminiscent of "Looked Up". But "Sabine & Me" begs to be the first single, with its wordless chorus of beautiful Ooo's and the stuttering hook of its later half. Honestly, every track is great, so there's no point in me continuing.

Don't get me wrong; So Serious is no perfect album. Much like Art Contest, it sounds slightly repetitive at times, but the problem minimal, as the album crunches twelve tracks over twenty-four minutes and ends before it gets old. And any lack of ingenuity is made up for by sheer fun and catchiness. After only one listen, the rest of the day I found little bits of choruses and hooks sprouting in my head, and if an album can do that, I don't care about any tiny flaws.

Despite similarities, just know: The Like Young aren't Mates of State gone punk. The Like Young aren't Weezer stripped down to guitar and drums. The Like Young aren't the next White Stripes (The Like Young are actually good at playing their instruments). The Like Young are more than their similarities and influences, and certainly more than their two parts. Armed with only a guitar and drums, Amanda and Joe Ziemba sound bigger than any Polyphonic Spree army of musicians, and they're here to save you from every day life. Stop taking things so seriously and just have fun.

Looking back on that first night, it was quite symbolic. There they were, playing to a crowd of 10-15 people, and you know what? They made a fan.

Andrew Wexler

Track List

  1. Out to Get Me
  2. You're No Cheat
  3. Tighten My Tie
  4. Worry a Lot
  5. Sabine & Me
  6. Routines
  7. Degenerate
  8. Heard Your Health
  9. Don't Know When to Stop
  10. Sharp or Messy
  11. Be a Sinner
  12. Really Up to You