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Youth Lagoon lost his voice for 8 months; has returned with his first album in 8 years

Youth Lagoon lost his voice for 8 months; has returned with his first album in 8 years


Trevor Powers aka Youth Lagoon is to release his first album since 2015’s third record Savage Hills Ballroom, with Heaven Is a Junkyard this June 9th on Fat Possum.

Back in that year, Powers announced the end of the project with a letter that called the project “a transitional trilogy,” and saying his three albums occupy a “certain isolated and solitary spectrum, a space I no longer inhabit, nor want to inhabit.”

“I felt like I was in a chokehold,” he says now. “Even though it was my music, I lost my way. In a lot of ways, I lost myself.”

Powers made two “experimental tapes” under his own name (2018’s Mulberry Violence and 2020’s Capricorn) from his base in Idaho, but things went south.

A reaction to an over-the-counter medication in October 2021 left Powers dealing with “a non-stop geyser of acid,” coating his larynx and vocal cords for eight months. He saw seven doctors and multiple specialists, lost over 30 pounds and by Christmas that year, could no longer speak, instead texting and using pen and paper to communicate.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to speak again, let alone sing. It all felt symbolic in a way,. I’d been swallowing fear all my life and now here it was coming back up.” 

2023 sees Powers return to Youth Lagoon after his voice came back and gave him a different clarity, enabling him to write about his Idaho surroundings.

“Family, neighbors, and grim reapers, he says. “I’ve always written about far away things, but the best material has been right in front of me this whole time in Idaho.”

“Youth Lagoon was never the chokehold,” says Powers. “I was.” 

The first song from the album, which was recorded in six weeks with co-producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Adele, Gil Scott-Heron) is ‘Idaho Alien’, a brittle piano song.

“I’ve always loved old hardboiled crime novels. They’re twisted but pure. ‘Idaho Alien’ comes from that space. Home often feels like a Jim Thompson book. One of my neighbours smokes meth all day and mows the lawn at 2:00 am. Her boyfriend lived in a tent in her backyard, and one day she locked him out of the house so he went as far as trying to stab her. He got sent to prison for 10 years. She told me she still loves him, and I told her she deserves better. The last time I asked her not to mow the lawn at 2:00 am, we wound up talking about aliens and Subway sandwiches. Every November, a church group rakes her leaves and tells her about Jesus. I don’t think it’s working.” 

The accompanying video, directed by Tyler T. Williams, was filmed largely in the farming town of Kuna, Idaho.

 “Ty and I found the right spot and parked our truck in the clearing. Fifteen minutes later, two black trucks pull up. Ten teens with shotguns and automatic rifles get out. This is normal in Idaho. They start shooting at the dirt by each other’s feet and using liquor bottles as clay pigeons. Still pretty normal. Then they take a shot at a car driving past on the highway. This wouldn’t be considered normal,” he laughs. Powers and Williams drove up the hill to take a dinner break and wait for the kids to leave. “We could tell they were shooting into the air now cuz we could hear the bullets coming down in the wind. Right before magic hour, wartime finally ended, and we heard their trucks peel out. We went back to the clearing and set up the camera. Their shotgun shells make an appearance in the video at the 10 second mark,” Powers says. “The scenes with the dad and young drifter were filmed the following day in Nampa, Idaho by the train depot. That’s their house… they’re a real father and son. This story couldn’t have been told without them.”

 “Heaven Is a Junkyard is about all of us. It’s stories of brothers leaving for war, drunk fathers learning to hug, mothers falling in love, neighbours stealing mail, cowboys doing drugs, friends skipping school, me crying in the bathtub, dogs catching rabbits, and children playing in tall grass.”

Heaven Is a Junkyard track list:

1. Rabbit
2. Idaho Alien 
3. Prizefighter
4. The Sling
5. Lux Radio Theatre
6. Deep Red Sea
7. Trapeze Artist
8. Mercury
9. Little Devil from the Country
10. Helicopter Toy 

Idaho Alien Lyrics

Billy, come home.
And Billy, don’t stop.
Daddy come home.
And Daddy don’t talk.
Radio hides a shitty old cop.
Maybe I’m high and maybe I’m not.

There was sadness coming through to you.
Wonder how I caught it…
Wonder how it started…
Angel in the garden,
the razor was sharpened.

I don’t remember how it happened.
Blood filled up the clawfoot bath and I will fear no frontier.
I don’t remember how it happened.
Blood filled up the clawfoot bath and I will fear no frontier.
Billy, come home.
And Billy’s no punk.
Daddy come home.
And Daddy’s on junk.

Videotape, a fisherman’s knot.
Filling the tub and waiting for God.
There was sadness in the water too.

Wonder who will find me.
Small stone in the quarry.
No one ever told me the end of the story.

Idaho alien, Idaho alien, Idaho alien, don’t cry.
Idaho alien, Idaho alien, Idaho alien, goodbye.

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