Heavily indebted to the spunky guitar rock of bands like Weezer and Jimmy Eat World, the Pacific Northwest trio Dude York inject the tried-and-true formula with humor and sensitivity. Their first albums were a showcase for the songs and yearning vocals of guitarist Peter Richards; when bassist Claire England joined, the band changed focus to fit her songs and vocals. On 2017's Sincerely, their first record for Hardly Art and third overall, the group began to escape indie rock and aim for something more mainstream, if still very retro. 2019's Falling completes the transformation, as Richards and England became equal creative partners and the band expanded their sound to include '80s influences and more modern production techniques.
Dude York formed in the early 2010s when college buddies guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Peter Richards, drummer Andrew Hall, and bassist Alex Cassidy began bashing out punky, poppy guitar rock. After a few years of fooling around, they coalesced while living in Seattle and released the home-recorded, very lo-fi album Gangs of Dude York in early 2011. They put out two more singles that year, "David" and "Satanic Vs.," then finished up with the short and noisy Dewark EP. The next year brought more recordings, July's Escape from Dude York EP and September's studio-recorded single "The Lake." There was a personnel shake-up as well, with Cassidy leaving the group and former Brite Futures member Claire England joining.
The band spent time playing shows and working on their second album, 2014's Dehumanize, and first for the Help Yourself label. It was recorded in a studio and found Dude York moving away from their noisy beginnings toward a more focused, '90s alternative-inspired sound. They also began shifting away from Richards being the main songwriting voice within the group and toward a more collaborative setup where everyone brought ideas to the table. The first fruit of their new approach was the "Lose Control"/"Love Is" single, which was recorded in late 2015 and released in 2016. That year they signed to the Seattle label Hardly Art and started work on another album. After recording it once at home, with the results being deemed too home-cooked and weird, the band hooked up with ex-Blood BrotherCody Votolato and John Goodmanson, a longtime producer of groups from the Northwest, to re-record the album. The finished product, titled Sincerely, was released in early 2017 and showed Dude York fully embracing the power of the recording studio and channeling the power-chord-heavy, lighthearted sound of '90s bands like Weezer and the Rentals. The trio returned at the end of the year with a collection of seasonal originals, plus a punky take on "Silent Night," titled Halftime for the Holidays.
2018 found the trio on the road, supporting Bully in the U.K. and Europe and releasing two singles, "Moon" and "What Would You Do If You Had Some Money Now?" The songs dialed down the punkier aspects of their sound in favor of a streamlined guitar rock sound that harkened back to the '80s and '90s in equal amounts. Those two songs showed up on the four-track EP Happy in the Meantime, along with a couple rockers done in their old style. The group's second album proper leaned more in the direction of the slicked-up, stripped-down pop of the singles. Working with producer Patrick Brown at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, Richards and England split songwriting and singing duties, and the band crafted something radio-ready and introspective in comparison to their debut. Falling was issued by Hardly Art in mid-2019. ~ Tim Sendra