Holden Caulfield, J.D. Salinger’s beloved, profane protagonist in the 1951 American classic Catcher in the Rye, has come to represent the struggle to balance innocence and maturity in a very teenage-angsty sort of way. Neo-folksy singer-songwriter Colin Caulfield, who goes by the moniker Young Man, shares more than a name with Salinger’s fictional young man. His first full-length album, Ideas of Distance, was released on September 27 by Frenchkiss Records and is hauntingly woven with contemplative lyrics about growing up and finding identity.
Young Man began covering songs from both classic artists like The Beatles and contemporary ones like Animal Collective on YouTube a mere two years ago. After Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox stumbled upon Caulfield’s cover of his own “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” and declared it better than the original, the St. Paul native signed to Frenchkiss and released the EP Boy in August 2010 (Rolling Stone).
Ideas of Distance is the first in a conceived trilogy of self-recorded LPs that Young Man intends to release over the next eighteen months. Its production quality is more intense than that of Boy, focusing on layered vocal tracks and otherworldly guitar parts. Most of the eight songs are on the long side, and while upon first listen they may seem to blend together in indistinguishable floaty sound, their gorgeous subtleties are really drawn out when heard multiples times. Standout tracks include the lush opener “Enough,” the entirely instrumental “Fall,” and “Then and Now,” which gradually builds to include beautiful multi-part harmonies. I’ve found myself listening to Young Man often while I’m studying — but not only are his songs great background music, they’re also worthy of close listening, because the finely crafted lyrics of tracks like “Nothing” are something like stand-alone poetry.
Young Man will be touring first with Gardens & Villa and then with Cold War Kids, for whom he’ll open at the 9:30 Club in DC on November 7 and 8. I recommend Ideas of Distance to anyone looking for some delightfully dreary, angsty autumn songs.
– Hopey Fink, host of Eclectic Hour, Mondays 8-9am on WGTB