Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Austin Young & NO Difference – Blue As Can Be Album Review


This CD review was originally published in the August 15, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Austin Young & NO Difference – Blue As Can Be

Vizztone Label Group

13 tracks / 57:02

It does not happen often, but every few years a new teenage blues rock talent knocks me back on my heels, Tyler Bryant did it a few years ago, and Austin Young has done it again. Austin Young & NO Difference’s second album, Blue as Can Be, is an enjoyable listen and it gives me renewed hope for the future of blues and the music industry as a whole.

17-year old Austin is based out of Colorado Springs, and it is hard to believe that he is self-taught and that he has only been playing for five years. Apparently he has not been wasting his teenage years by playing video games and watching television. Besides taking care of the guitars and vocals he also produced this album and did a lot of the writing. He is joined by fellow teen Noah Mast on bass and vocals, and Tim Young (his dad) on drums and vocals.

You would expect a blues rock guitar prodigy like Austin Young to throw a Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix cover tune into the mix, but he resisted temptation and filled up Blue As Can Be with thirteen original tracks. Austin Young and NO Difference wrote all of these songs, and they show some depth by experimenting with a few different genres outside of their baseline of blues rock.

“Thunderhead” kicks things off with an uptempo drum riff, and quickly adds a searing guitar line with a few layers of rhythm guitar underneath. Austin immediately establishes himself as a top-shelf guitarist, but is voice is very good too. As he belts out the classic blues pattern of lyrics I am struck that he sounds quite a bit older than the teenager that he is. This power blues rock tune gets things off to a strong start!

The title track comes up next, and he indicates in the liner notes that “Blue As Can Be” is his tribute to Muddy Waters. This slower-tempo song is heavier and dirtier, with a thumping bass line and an organ they brought in from somewhere. This is a really tight song, and the backline of Noah and Tim do a bang-up job of keeping things moving.

“Magdalena” is a lovely folk tune that has some nice steel guitar work within. His buddy Jim Adam provided the lyrics for this one, and the background vocals too. Unfortunately his lyrics are good enough that it makes the songs written by the rest of the band seem a little cliché-heavy. But this is only their second album, and they are a young band so they have plenty of time to work on this aspect of their music.

NO Difference can dish out a fast-paced roadhouse tune with some honky-tonk piano too. That piano and a little call and response give “Who’s Coming Out?” a Jerry lee Lewis good times vibe, and Austin does an admirable job of cranking out some 1950s style guitar work. This is followed up by “Borrowed Time,” a pop tune that features some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus.

Though I consider my myself a blues fan, my favorite track on the album is the jazzy rockabilly song, “That’s It.” I think it has a great beat, a strong chorus, and I am a sucker for the scat he threw out in the middle. This is 2½ minutes of fun, folks.

Don’t think I have gone too soft, though, “Give Me One Good Reason” come in a very close second. This is a seven minute slow grinding blues jam, and shows that the band has amazing blues chops and feel. Austin’s Dad does an especially good job of hammering out the drum lines, and reminds me a bit of Reg Isadore from Robin Trower’s band.

The sweet finale of Blue As Can Be, “Miss You Moore,” is an instrumental dedicated to the memory of the late bluesman Gary Moore, who left this world far too soon. His smooth guitar work is a fine tribute to this legendary British guitarist that we all miss so dearly.

By the way, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this CD stands out from most of the ones I get these days as it has exceptionally good liner notes. I like to read up on what I am listening to, and they put together notes for each track, a short bio for each artist and even a timeline of his short (but distinguished) career. They stopped short of adding the lyrics, but I can understand what they are singing, so that is not a loss.

Blue As Can Be is a very strong sophomore effort, and I hope that Austin Young can stick to his guns and continue to grow in his songwriting, while continuing to be his own man and follow his dream. Like prodigies that came before him, his exceptional guitar and vocal skills would make him a valuable draft choice for an established rock or blues band that needs a second guitar. It would be a shame if this happened and we did not get to see him not standing out front of the band, where he belongs.


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