Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Evangelists” by Gang of Youths from the 2013 self-released Evangelists single.
When a band’s debut single contains the chorus lyric “I’ve made more friends in Hell than I have in Jesus land”, they better have something to back up such a confrontational statement, but after a few spins, it’s hard not to be a true believer in Gang of Youths. Formed in 2012, the quintet built buzz around Sydney through their demos and fervent live show - the band’s Facebook page sarcastically references a negative live review that described the band as having “zero charisma...they manage to come off as total arseholes, the singer in particular” - that, love them or hate them, kept the band on the tongues of local journalists all the way through late 2013, when the band relocated to New York to record their debut album before returning Down Under to support heavyweights Frightened Rabbit and Vampire Weekend. The aforementioned “Evangelists” is confrontational, but not in a way that makes the band - singer or otherwise - come off as “total arseholes”. Quietly powerful in its catharsis, the band resists the urge to break out into Arcade Fire-style grandeur at the song’s peak, opting for a noisy, shouted final bridge that doesn’t need any lyrics or precision to get its sentiment across. Admirably direct in its emotional release, “Evangelists” is a song that was written alone in a hospital waiting room, but built for sunset-framed festival grounds with 40,000 other people.
Gang of Youths have plenty of dates lined up in Australia at the beginning of 2014, but they’ll make their way back to the Northern Hemisphere and tour supporting MS MR in New York in March, so keep an eye on their Facebook page and frequently hilarious Twitter page for any more tour announcements. For now, watch Dave play a stripped-down version of the band’s track “Overpass”: