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The desert fascinates me. It's like the earth coughed up its own sea, like it got jealous of the arctic's ability to be barely livable and wanted its share of the wasteland game. Like the ocean, this is a place where things can grow big, and inhuman creatures rule by means of survival that civilized humans can barely comprehend.

Maybe that's why Young Hunter's two-song EP, Children of a Hungry World, strikes me so. Hailing from Tuscon, Arizona, this band's sound has a heavy, drugged-out infectiousness that immediately makes me think of the desert. And maybe it's a romanticized desert, a sexy, cinematic, rock-and-roll desert that doesn't exist, but these songs immediately hit that chord and don't let go. Creepy, catchy, melancholy, and entertaining, this EP blows through the hot night air, leaving a cloud of brown sand and red clay billowing out behind it.

Opener "Cities of the Black Mesa" goes so far as to hinge its lyrics on living in the desert, but the band's sound opens up miles of barren dunes and sidewinders long before the listener hears the d-word. It's pained melodic post-rock opening gives in to a hip-swinging guitar line that smacks of King Crimson, Nick Cave, and Quentin Tarantino. The male-female twin vocal leads echo hauntingly with harmonized field hollers and sun-baked lyrics: "I don't know what will happen when water dries . . . "

The second track, "Children of a Hungry World," is equally trippy, but takes a more aggressive lyrical bent, with words that might as well be part of an Occupy Wall Street rally: "We wait for a future / Sharpening our tools / 'Cause we see that our leaders / Have been raised by wolves". But the wriggling guitar line beneath the verse gets stuck in the listener's head like a grub, and the huge wailing breakdown that is the chorus has a smoky dance quality to it, eerily channeling two parts Jefferson Airplane, one part Tony Iommi, and a dash of the Manson Family. The song could almost be gothy, but maintains enough sensual curves and hard percussion to remain deadly serious.

Short EPs are rarely my thing, but this is immediately one of my favorites, right up there with Holy Grail's Improper Burial and Baroness' First and Second. Young Hunter may be an amalgam of their influences, but for fans of stony post-hardcore and '70s-style groove, these two songs are instant classics, drawing the listener to them like a fire flickering out there, in the night, in the desert.

— Scab Casserole

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Bandcamp stream

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Bandcamp (Digital download)

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