Everything about the new Yo No Say's Inner EP was made in Baltimore, from the friendships of the band members, to the ink on the merchandise, to the venue of their album premiere: Baltimore Soundstage. For this exclusive album release, band members are giving away high-quality copies of their album art with lyrics and download codes on the back. The artwork is chic enough to frame, but doubles more importantly as a piece of music in a way that avoids the “I can listen to it on Spotify so I don’t need a physical copy” curse of the modern scene. It’s this combination of embracing the modern and returning to their roots that embodies Inner.
Yo No Say began as a friendship between music students at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The indie-rock five piece started on campus and began playing relentlessly in Baltimore, DC, and all the small towns in between. Frontman Daniel Feldman and bassist Owen McCusker took the liberty of recording the band’s first self-titled EP and had it mixed and mastered by fellow recording student Chris Johnson.
When it came time for a full-length release, the band looked to yet another member of their graduating class. This time, Sean Mercer, who was now working at Mobtown Studios, helped Yo No Say to develop into a fully unique entity. The album, Get Lost, introduced waves of synthesizer, shining harmonies, and progressive guitar riffs. The music was thick and complex.
Fast-forward to October of 2016. The band is gearing up for a new album and this time simplicity is the goal. For about a year, they met in McCusker's Baltimore basement switching around choruses and melodies, crossing items off giant dry-erase board checklists, and sending voice notes, scratch tracks, and reference songs back and forth to each other until the album came into view. Like chipping away at stone until it became a statue, the face of their upcoming album Inner finally started to take form.
It was only natural to go back to Mobtown to record the new project. Sean Mercer would serve again as the band’s unofficial extra member and taste-maker. The process was exhilarating but hard work, and a lot transpired during the sessions. Drums were stolen from drummer Dan Toal’s car outside the studio, and the very next morning he lost part of his fingertip in a woodworking accident. One member suffered a love loss, and the original keyboard/synth and backup vocalist left the band altogether.
“There was a lot changing in our lives during the course of making Inner and I think you can hear it in the album,” says Feldman. The five song EP is a journey from outside in. It starts through the perspective of a refugee making their way into America, follows up with the struggles of the inner city American teacher, goes into the personal affairs of love and desire, deeper still to the way we communicate and worship modern technology, and finally the fine line between one’s own original thoughts and the constant suggestion of outside influence. Inner is an exciting album that doubles as a deep work worth multiple listens. There is a shiny exterior that will draw you in with the first listen, and intimidating depths that will keep you exploring.