DFW Music News

Taylor Young Believes We 'Belong Together' After the Pandemic

Taylor Young, from The O's and the Taylor Young Band, is back and feeling hopeful with a new single.
Taylor Young, from The O's and the Taylor Young Band, is back and feeling hopeful with a new single. Cabus Gayao
We have to steal a line from The Smiths when Morrissey sings, “Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.” What we've heard before is how the pandemic, despite its many horrors, has shown itself to have been a fruitful time for artists, and especially, perhaps, for songwriters. The array of new music born from the uncertain, unsettling times of COVID has been anything but predictable or rote.

Taylor Young, the leader of the Taylor Young Band, found himself, like many others, experiencing the then-called “new normal.” But as a songwriter, he had an artistic avenue to take those common feelings for a stroll in an effort to turn them into something new and even hopeful.

“I think we all came out a little differently postpandemic,” he says. “We were forced to slow down and dig deeper. Having that time away from my normal routine and more time focusing on writing most certainly brought in some new themes. It was a confusing period of existential analysis and trying to figure out how to come out of this ‘time away’ better than before.”

The new single “Belong Together” is the first glimpse into what Young has done with what he experienced during the “time away.” The first new tune from the Taylor Young Band since the release of the group’s excellent Mercury Transit, a melodic indie-rock record released just as the pandemic hit America in March 2020, brings us a fresh, atmospheric rock sound that shows off an exciting texture from the group.

Many are familiar with Young’s work as half of the roots-rock duo The O’s. Along with John Pedigo, Young’s work with The O’s is often twangy, jaunty and folksy in the best sing-along way. Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Young can successfully stretch his sonic wings. He’s a noted veteran of the North Texas music scene, having played in an all-star list of bands over the years including The Polyphonic Spree, Hi-Fi Drowning and The Hundred Inevitables. That he and his bandmate Toby Pipes (Deep Blue Something, Little Black Dress) could turn a bit of studio tinkering from Pipes’ College Station space into something grand with a bit of extra time on their hands is of little surprise either.

“Toby had been messing with his MIDI gear and used an electronic kick, snare and hat for me to play to instead of a click [track],” Young says. “I added some moves to the beat and it stuck. We even tried real drums, but the beat was already there and undeniable. No reason to fight it. We turned down my electric guitar, kept the bass synth-heavy and we knew that was it.”

"I’ve been in so many projects over the last two decades, and time and time again I find it’s the people that make it, and I’m lucky to have my people.” – Taylor Young

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There will be a fresh full-length album from the Taylor Young Band in 2023, but “Belong Together” will not be on it. This new song is a stand-alone single that Young wanted to have out in the world now. The theme of how things in life "belong together” even applies to how Young simply wanted to finally release something new.

“It’s been fun getting back on stage and back into the rhythm of running a band,” he says. “Whether you wanted to or not, we were all forced to shut down there for a bit. Booking shows, figuring out these new releases, learning new tunes with the band, finding out ways to become a better songwriter and frontman, it all takes time and I’m pumped to have the opportunity to jump back in. I love my band: Toby, Michael [Smith] and Austin [Green]. I’ve been in so many projects over the last two decades, and time and time again I find it’s the people that make it, and I’m lucky to have my people.”

Much in the way a great zombie flick isn’t really about the gory undead, but about the living people who are facing a weird, new reality, the best music from the pandemic is about the unique ways in which artists crafted their own takes on a universal experience. “Belong Together” is just a really great tune from a fantastic band of players, regardless of when it was made and released.

“I like a good challenge, and that’s how I looked at 2020 and 2021,” Young says. “I think you’ll hear that fight on the new record, but for 'Belong Together,' it was more about the fight for the truth that we are better together. I am hopeful even though I don’t really act like it, so I’m trying to act like it. People are good, and I’m sure we’ll figure it all out one of these days. We’ve accomplished a lot already.”

Listen to "Belong Together" below:
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Kelly Dearmore