Coming up strong behind R. Stevie Moore as the most talented singer/songwriter to be based in the nondescript bedroom community of Montclair, NJ, Jenny Owen Youngs fuses Liz Phair's perceptive and brashly funny lyrics with the orchestrated folk-pop of Regina Spektor and Erin McKeown, adding just a hint of Nellie McKay's jazzy cabaret leanings and Cat Power's throaty, confessional angst. Born in New Jersey in 1981, Youngs first picked up the guitar at the age of 14 and attended the music program at the State University of New York, having enrolled during a period in which the previously obscure art school was single-handedly populating what would become the entire New York "anti-folk" scene: besides Youngs and Spektor, Jeffrey Lewis, Langhorne Slim, and the Moldy Peaches' Adam Green, and Kimya Dawson were all SUNY-Purchase graduates.
Maintaining a friendship with Spektor, who chose Youngs as her opening act on the tours following her breakthrough album, Soviet Kitsch, Youngs wrote and recorded her debut album, 2005's self-released Batten the Hatches. Although the album garnered generally positive reviews, it attracted little notice until one of its highlights, the rueful "Fuck Was I," was used in the second-season opener of the popular cable sitcom Weeds. Signing with the Canadian indie Nettwerk Records, Youngs released a remixed and repackaged version of Batten the Hatches in early 2007. She returned to the road shortly thereafter, opening shows for the likes of Vienna Teng while compiling material for a new album. Released in 2009, Transmitter Failure marked the artist's second full-length release.