Young Yeller creates big pop sounds from small Greenpoint bedroom

One man band: Young Yeller, also known as Jesse Brickel, sounds like an ’80s pop band — but he is just one guy in a Greenpoint apartment.
Young Yeller

Many musicians give up dreams of pop stardom for sensible day jobs — but Jesse Brickel has done the exact opposite.

When the Greenpoint resident was beginning on his path as a professional musician, he was urged in the direction of the classical world, studying percussion in college. But partway through his education, Brickel realized that it was pop and rock that lit his creative fire as a kid, and that he needed to return to those sounds.

“I started to pay attention to the pop that I had ignored over the previous 10 years,” Brickel said. “I started re-falling in love with music again.”

After finishing school, Brickel spent several years applying the classical compositional techniques he had learned to film and theater scoring, while also performing as part of the live version of electro-pop project Chrome Sparks.

But now, Brickel’s head and heart are completely focused on his own efforts — a one-man-band called Young Yeller.

Young Yeller’s 2011 album “Make Me” and his upcoming self-titled release could be lost classics from the 1980s. The pop sound of that era — dominated by glassy synth tones and big, booming drums — is a particular fascination of Brickel’s, who said he grew up absorbing the hit singles of icons such as Scritti Politti and Duran Duran.

“They had this futuristic focus that is totally fascinating,” said Brickel, who will release his new album at Glasslands on Feb. 5. “I think they had the right idea of what the future could be.”

Despite his retro sound, Brickel’s music is very much a product of modern technology. His idols from 30 years ago had to decamp to a huge recording studio filled with drum machines and keyboards to create their glossy pop tunes, but Brickel has been able to capture the same sound alone in his apartment, using only a laptop.

Even more impressive is that these bedroom recordings have found a sizeable audience online, even though Young Yeller has only played shows in and around Brooklyn. The new album’s opening track “War” has been streamed over 24,000 times on Soundcloud.

But Brickel said he is trying to avoid a 1980s-sized pop-star ego, and is keeping his expectations about how people will react to the new release in check.

“I don’t think the record is in line with what’s on people’s iPods right now,” he said.

Young Yeller releases his new album at Glasslands [289 Kent Ave. between S. First and S. Second Streets in Williamsburg, (718) 599–1450, www.theglasslands.com]. Feb. 5 at 8:30 pm, $10.

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