Mainstays on the Northern live music scene, Leeds punk reprobates The Yalla Yallas are well known for their energetic and frantic live shows. Fronted by the enigmatic Rob Galloway, they take their name from a Joe Strummer song and have released three albums over the past decade.
For inspiration, singer/songwriter Rob took himself on a European trip, armed with just his notebook and a passport. ‘Outsider’, the band’s fourth album, is the fruits of his labour and sees the band venture outside of their punk roots to explore folk, blues and country.
‘Outsider’ is an eclectic collection of songs that draws on the bands collective influences and the singer’s worldly experiences. It mixes up rousing, punky blasts with folky traditional stomps and heartfelt balladry on a par with anything their contemporaries can muster.
You can tell The Yalla Yallas are a great live band and producer Grant Henderson has captured the live spirit of the band perfectly. None more so than on the upbeat and rousing ‘Borrowed Heart’. A song that brings to mind early U2 and The Waterboys, the urgent beats and bouncing bass line lay down a perfect rhythm for layered guitars and Rob’s raw vocals. The addition of a surprise sax gives added E Street band goodness. This is good stuff.
It seems that the band thrives on exhilarating, catchy sing-alongs. Whether it be punky stabs of Clash-like goodness such as the single ‘Problems’ and ‘Another Day In Hell’, rousing, folky drinking songs like ‘Blackpool (Feeling So Alive)’ or frantic blasts like ‘Murder, Baby!’, a song that comes on like a lost b side from The Urban Voodoo Machine.
The emotive ‘Somewhere Anywhere’ is one of those special, instantly gratifying songs that begs repeated plays. It builds to a chorus that includes the line “I wanna dance with you in the eye of a hurricane”, words sung with such passion and conviction. You believe his every word by the time he’s telling the girl “I wanna be the man you’ve dreamed of” as guitarist Will Grinder peels off licks of Slash-like proportions.
They take it down as well though. The banjo-infused ‘I Got Nothing’ is Johnny Thunders meets Mike Scott. Stripped bare, it’s heartfelt balladry of a man with nothing to lose. Elsewhere, a lone piano, haunting gospel vocals and Tom Waits vibes make ‘Walking In The Rain’ an essential slice of alternative music you need in your life.
They add another string to their bow with the spaghetti western-inspired ‘Devil’, a song that has Ennio Morricone vibes. Its pistols at dawn, with the stench of stale sweat and whiskey in your nostrils. The perfect Tarantino-esque soundtrack fodder.
The Yalla Yallas are relatively unknown outside of their native Leeds and ‘Outsider’ goes a long way to prove they should be much more than that. This collection of songs contains many sure-fire, future live favourites. These are alternative anthems to lose your shit to, as you sing-along with Rob, a beer in your hand and not a care in the world.
Author: Ben Hughes