Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Sue me if it's wrong, but the images that crop up when listening to and thinking about Yukon Blonde, from Kelowna, British Columbia, are those of the Yukon Cornelius character from the go-to Christmas special of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. He's the guy who befriends the ostracized freak of a reindeer and an effeminate, toy-making elf whose only dream in life is to become a dentist someday. Cornelius winds up taming the Abominable Snowman, but his greatest peccadillo is his peculiar ability with a pickaxe. He's able to thrust the point of his axe into any piece of rock and - with some rapid licks of his tongue on the point - is able to determine if there's gold just within the confines of that rock. It's something of a gift - one of the only talents the weathered journeyman of the North Pole has.
He comes to mind and seems relevant here - forget about the coincidence in the names - because this group of Canadians have an uncanny knack for finding the veins of the rich stuff in every piece of rock that they dig into. It's like they're able to put a finger to the breeze and snoop out just where to strike, hitting upon some weak seam that will spill out all of the greatest goodies that we listen for in music. It's a rush of intricate three-part harmonies that don't even seem to make sense, when you see them live. They are exemplary, not in the least because they're such energetic and ferociously talented and busy players.
The hooks could give you vertigo, they're so dizzying. It is just an avalanche of almost the ideal striking of a middle ground between Hall & Oates, The Band and Metallica. It's seems positively crazy and yet it's where they take us on these songs that dip into beautiful, clear blue waterfalls with us and their conflicted characters from their songs - lovers, friends, family - all together in an unstable raft, floating away, through the calmness, over the rapids and what's inevitably next. Lead singer, Jeff Innes sings, "I tried to run through darker times/It's all I know." He seems not to be the only one, but the dark times here, still have a shine all their own and we can't help but look and listen.