For local pop-punk aficionados who've seen Riding in Vans with Boys-the DVD that chronicled local band Kut U Up's jaunt with blink-182 on the "Pop Disaster Tour"-Yovee might sound like the tuneful equivalent of premature balding.
By the close of "Intimate Controversy," the first song from Yovee's debut EP, City Strolling, the diversity of the Encinitas band's influences is obvious, and surprising. "Diverse" is a term that's largely been eradicated from the glossary of pop-punk-the genre that was kind to Kut U Up, the band whose members essentially spawned Yovee.
Some have called Yovee "acoustic Kut U Up." But it's more than that, and better.
Spanning the massive gap between early '70s folk rock and the progressive side of underground pop, City Strolling hints of Paul Simon. There's also a bit of the elfin strangeness that allures people to Pinback.
Yovee's weaving acoustic melodies mix with often dark, self-destructive lyrics for a sound that, one member proffers, "makes you want to pack your shit and hitchhike far away from home."
Over pints of beer at The Tidewater bar in San Olijo, the six members rattle off the bands that formed them personally. At least for this conversation, Green Day isn't on the list.
"I was raised on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young ... and The Beatles," says singer-lyricist-guitarist Brandon Parkhurst, the one who-as Driving in Vans hilariously showed-is the manic comic of both Yovee and Kut U Up.
"I like everything from Bruce Hornsby to Poison," relates Evan Poselli, keyboardist and occasional guitarist.
"We call him Evan and Garfunkel," Parkhurst shoots back.
"We're all on the same page," explains drummer Brian Cook, who looks decidedly younger than his 31 years. "Brandon comes up with the general guitar or piano line-basically, the foundation-and then everyone comes in and fills their niche."
Seems fitting for a group of guys who have played in and around the same bands for the last 13 to 16 years. Bassist Dylan Raasch started Kut U Up a few years back, pulling in Parkhurst and Micah Mattson, who also plays lead guitar for Yovee. Cook and Poselli were part of defunct local jam band Government Grown. Because they all hail from the same area, their social circles often crossed and friendships formed. Those ties eventually became musical, and Yovee was formed.
Yovee is a mature step forward that the band attributes to, well, getting older. Getting older and staying in the same place, with the same guys, frequenting the same bars. Some would call it stagnancy. Some would call it luck-especially considering the numerous nights spent at The Boardroom bar in Leucadia led to Parkhurst meeting bartender Nell Blevins.
"She was always talking to me about how she used to sing, and I asked her to sing a harmony," Brandon explains of Yovee's only female member, a transplant from Colorado who sang in both church and school choirs as a kid.
If the boys of Yovee were a scotch, Blevins' voice would be their ice, the female beauty that mellows and compliments Parkhurst's staccato, less-refined lead. With her blues background and his audible punk edge, their creative ideas aren't always coming from the same place-and that seems to work.
"She goes no, I go yes, she goes no, I go yes," says Parkhurst. As a group, however, there seems to be very few or no issues with creative development.
"We know how to write songs now," Parkhurst says with blunt confidence.
The combined experience of Yovee members spans a few decades, and they've become in tune with each other through Kut U Up and Government Grown. But some of the credit for City Strolling's accomplished sound should also be attributed to producer Ben Moore (Drive Like Jehu, Jimmy Eat World).
The strongest track on City Strolling is "Dreamer on the Run"-a loose story of love lost and the inconvenience of having to share space after the fallout.
"I hear you're hanging out around my favorite watering holes" is the lyric that pulls you in-a bottling of that bittersweet feeling when you're glad to be rid of that person, but their name still hurts.
"It's actually about this place," Parkhurst says. "I'll just be chilling out and someone will say, "Shit, I saw your chick last night.'
"That's my shit," he says, displaying a sense of ownership to our surroundings. "That's my place."
And by the sounds of it, so is Yovee.Yovee's music has appeared in the film Riding in Vans With Boys and will be featured in the upcoming Taylor Steele film, Drive Thru. Yovee will perform at the Belly Up April 9 with Redwest and This Holiday Life.