If you’ve been out lately to listen to live music, chances are, you won’t get too far without running into Young Valley.
With a prolific schedule around the Jackson metro area, the alt-country twangers, Spencer Thomas and Carson Braymer of Madison and twin brothers, Dylan and Zach Lovett, of Brandon, have developed quite the following. This week, they’ll release their first full length album, No Filter, in a show at Duling Hall.
Zach made a name for himself as early as 2007, playing open mic nights at Fenians at the age of 15. Spencer, Carson and Dylan all played out, too, under their own names, and, with Zach in a band called Dandy and The Lions at Delta State.
In the summer of 2013, as Zach’s musical star began to rise, his brother and band mates took notice. “We had discussed, since Zach was getting attention, we would be a back up band and play his songs,” remembered Dylan. “We were going to do a Zach record.”
Dylan, home from school at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, took part in a series of jam sessions with his brother, along with Spencer and Carson. “It turned into me jamming with Zach and Spencer would write songs,” Dylan says. “Instead of it being a Zach thing, we needed to make it more of a band sound, so it snowballed into something we didn’t plan on.”
Let’s Make a Record!
Zach elaborates: “We were just like, ‘We’re home, we have some songs, let’s get together and play ’em – the four of us — and try to make some money.” That, he remembers, turned into “something we all dug and other people seemed to dig. We spit out a bunch of songs and said, ‘Okay, this is cool; let’s make a record.’”
Making that record took them over a year. Carson laughs, saying, “We were childish to think we could do it in that short amount of time.” Spencer says it was simply excitement. “We had a couple of days where Zach would come by with a little line and we’d build off of that. We had good songs that summer and there was something in the air. But we need a little more time.”
The band recorded a four song EP with Drew McKercher (Roosevelt Noise, Space Wolf) at the former Morning Bell Studios in the Duling School as a way to memorialize their summer jam sessions. A full length project began when Zach’s mentor, Byron Knight (Taylor Hildebrand, Wooden Finger) began building his new studio near Highland Village.
“We actually helped him build the studio out,” Dylan says of their eagerness to record. “When we came home for holidays that year, we were ready and he was, too.”
Knight’s expertise, the band says, was invaluable to the project. “There are some things on this record we built in the studio that we still do live,” Spencer says. “We’d do fourteen takes and Byron would be like, ‘Hey boys, try this.’ We’d do a it a little different and it turned out for the better. And I’m glad we did.”
The band wanted to make sure the record wasn’t over-polished, that it didn’t sound like something straight out of months of work in a Nashville studio. To Carson, that wouldn’t be Young Valley. “For us, there’s no humanity in that,” he says.
Spencer explains the lack of perfection. “There are some flat and some sharps that aren’t quite right. There’s some scratchiness that we kept, some rawness from 2:30am vocal takes that we did and said, ‘that’s a keeper.'”
Zach says No Filter is a mix of their live show – a very organic, fun and raucous experience – and the delicate touches of being in the studio. “It’s the playful and sweet things added in to the background of what we’re doing,” he explains. “We’re at the forefront, but we’ve got kickass people to support us like Matthew Magee, Tyler Kemp, Jeff Reynolds and Dylan’s girlfriend, singer Amber Marie Flores. It’s really tasteful stuff on top of what we already have.”
For their album release Wednesday night at Duling Hall, Young Valley is excited to not only celebrate their work, but to celebrate their adopted neighborhood. “Everything we have done is local,” Dylan says. “Scott Allen printed our stickers and Clint from Electric Dagger designed them. Mikey from Electric Dagger designed our tees, Laura Meek shot our pictures and local bands, European Theater and El Obo are openers for the show.”
“It’s definitely a Jackson and Fondren fueled record,” Zach adds.“We’re proud to be from here,” Dylan says, claiming Fondren as their homebase.
Zach is already looking past Wednesday night’s show — to Thursday morning — and not just for the turkey and stuffing. “I want people to wake up Thanksgiving day and remember November 27,” he says. “And not just for the music, but because everyone they cared about was at our show. Because this neighborhood is about community. We’re thankful for Jackson, Mississippi and you have been a part of why we’ve made it. Come hang out. Don’t forget about where you are.”
Giddy up, Jackson, giddy up.