Nice Package: Young Hunter’s Stone Tools CD and Newsprint Poster

Posted in Visual Evidence on September 17th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

You can kind of see it, but the image above is of the envelope in which the CD pressing of recently On the Radar-ized Tuscon, Arizona, harvest doom outfit Young Hunter‘s full-length debut, Stone Tools, arrived. Click the picture (or any in the post, or any in any post) to enlarge. Stamped in black ink on the back in a sort of Native American geometric is a ram’s skull. Oh, what the postman must think of me.

Young Hunter was kind enough to send me one of the 300 physical copies of Stone Hunter, and one look at the packaging of the album and the obvious work that went into making it and it’s hard not to appreciate the effort, attention to detail (like the envelope above) and the effect that a physical presentation can have on what’s more often than not thought of these days as non-physical media. Take a look.

The CD itself comes in a black paper sleeve. Nothing really special about it, but on the front is the band’s logo stamped in silver ink. Obviously this isn’t to scale with the envelope above, but here it is:

Also included in the package, as well as some stickers, is a newsprint poster. Now, I’ll grant that I have and will probably always have a soft spot in my heart for newsprint owing to my time working for publications who utilized it, but as the Stone Tools poster unfolds to a whopping 34″ x 21″, it’s impressive even if you don’t have emotional baggage related to the media.

Inspired to do so by a shot on the band’s Bandcamp page, I left the CD (and the stickers) there for scale, but that’s the darker side. On the right there are words in a vertical all the way down, and on the left a wolf design in shades of gray. Some of the ink bled on the poster — hazards of the trade with newsprint; also something that makes each one unique — but it still looks great. The other side is a horizontal design:

Arranged into a pyramid are the lyrics to Stone Tools‘ nine tracks, and they rest atop a barren desert mountainscape appropriate for the atmosphere of the music. On each side, lines come together in a fade toward the middle and there’s a steer skull at the top. Here’s a closer look at the pyramid:

All told it’s a pretty gorgeous design and a great package that, from envelope to unfolding, really fits what Young Hunter are doing musically. If you want more info on this version of Stone Tools or to get it as a pay-what-you-will download, hit up Young Hunter‘s Bandcamp page. Thanks to the band for sending the album over.

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On the Radar: Young Hunter

Posted in On the Radar on August 23rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

There is a lot that Tuscon, Arizona, heavy psych rockers Young Hunter do right on their self-released 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools. Foremost, tone. The seven-piece band nail glowing-tube tonal warmth in their guitars and bass — and rightfully so to go along with open, laid back grooves, perfect for the post-Cisneros folk-harmony vocals that only add to the classic vibing and airy atmospherics. For a comparison point, Across Tundras revel in a similar big-sky ritualism, but Young Hunter let you hear more of the vibrating cones in their cabs and the material feels more specifically of its desert home for it. Arbouretum also covered some of this hard ground on their underrated 2011 outing, The Gathering.

Stone Tools opens strong with “The Harbinger.” Aside from earning immediate points for being the longest track on the album, Young Hunter‘s leadoff introduces the multi-singer vocals and I don’t even know how many layers of guitar. Info on personnel is vague at best (they’re on Thee Facebooks here), but the sound is full enough to make seven players believable, and even as the subsequent “Young Leaves on Ancient Branches” and “Cities of Black Mesa” get more aggressive — the latter’s opening riff could easily pass for black metal as much as anything Wolves in the Throne Room did on their first album, though they soon bring in a smoked-out psych blues coo — Young Hunter hold to a sense of pastoral bliss. It’s the desert at night, echoing canyons, an infinity of stars, lonely, but the dirt on the ground is still hot on the bottoms of your bare feet.

So what’s the holdup on my overly image-based slathering of appreciation? Mostly the mix. The vocals initially come through too high and while obviously the organic recording adds to the effectiveness of Stone Tools overall and by the time “Black Candles” comes on I’ve forgotten these and several other woes in favor of Young Hunter‘s sweet ritualizing, there are still some pieces of the songs that pull you out of the overarching hypnotic effect in ways that don’t seem purposeful.

That said, Stone Tools follows a 2011 tape release called Children of a Hungry World and is Young Hunter‘s first record, so that they’d give the impression of still getting their bearings isn’t really all that surprising. More to the point, I dig Stone Tools as it is and thought I’d post it here in case you might do the same. The band have a couple shows coming up in Tuscon and I don’t know what their plans are after that, if they’ll get to work on a follow-up to Stone Tools or what, but the kind of desert reverie they put into “Drought,” I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before they answer back with another release. In the meantime, Stone Tools is available on the dirt cheap from their Bandcamp page in a screenprinted sleeve that comes with an awesome-looking poster, as seen above.

Here’s the full stream of the album:

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