Posts Tagged ‘Wye Oak’

Wye Oak -- Tween

Tween is billed not an album or mixtape but an amorphous project built from worthy outtakes. Wasner and bandmate Andy Stack formed Wye Oak ten years ago; that means, as an entity, they are now in their tweens. But she says that’s not why she named their latest record Tween — the title just seemed appropriate for an album  out physically August 5th on on Merge Records whose tracks are outtakes. The songs presaged a transition for the band, between their 2011 breakout LP Civilian, and their most recent, 2014’s Shriek, on which they radically changed their sound.So what’s it doing on a best albums list? Well, just as Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have managed to translate their swooning twilight indie-rock into many different sonic frameworks, so that no matter what instruments they use it still sounds like Wye Oak, apparently if you string enough of these songs together it will elicit that same epic melancholy sensation you get from one of their proper LPs. In other words, shut up Wye Oak this is an album, one that masterfully bridges Shriek’s baroque synthpop with the smoldering guitar music of their youth

Wye Oak - Tween

This month, Wye Oak surprise-released a new sorta-album called Tween. It’s been two years since their last LP — the underrated and beautiful Shriek, but this isn’t the official next record from Wye Oak, exactly. It isn’t billed as Album #5. It is eight previously unreleased songs, revisited from the transitional and searching time that elapsed between Civilian and Shriek, while also being inextricably linked to both. It’s an album that steps sideways and backward and maybe forward, making it the latest weird entry into what has become Wye Oak’s weird trajectory.

As a successor to Civilian, Shriek was lost somewhere in-between all of this. It was in the mold of the stylistic leap and it was the much-anticipated album that seemingly should’ve ignited more fervor around the group, yet didn’t. The thing that doesn’t make sense here is that Shriek was so well-received; it wasn’t a botched attempt at the stylistic left-turn breakthrough-followup. It just wound up being, well, a quieter release than the one for which the duo seemed primed. A not-insignificant part of this is that Wye Oak’s decision to aggressively ditch their guitar-oriented sound for a synth-y, groove-focused album left some fans and critics scratching their heads. Strange as it seems in the ’10s to be hung up on a rock-oriented band experimenting with a more electronic sound, there was some degree of validity to it. In the perennial conversation about “guitar music being over” or whatever, Wye Oak were a beacon of hope, a band that were wresting raw and vital emotions out of an instrument and form that many would write off as being tapped-out. Even so, Shriek wasn’t some gimmick or willful negation of what the duo had achieved on their first few albums. It was a necessary overhaul in which Wasner and Stack reworked their approach from the ground up,

So, in several ways, that’s where Tween comes in. It’s the type of counter-narrative whisper of a release that you can get away with more easily when you aren’t saddled with the pressure of having ascended to the peak of the indie world, the point at which each of your records has the weight of being the Next Big Statement from your band. And it’s a release that elucidates what went on behind the scenes of the seemingly abrupt, sharp left-turn that occurred between Civilian and Shriek, while also suggesting what Wye Oak could be now that Shriek has rearranged the borders.

It all culminates with the stunning closer “Watching The Waiting” Tween’s surefire, immediate entry if you were to make a list of Wye Oak’s finest songs. “Watching The Waiting” doesn’t sound quite like anything else in Wye Oak’s catalog. It has a breakneck momentum not unlike past songs, but a less burdened one; it’s brighter and sprightlier than the heavy churn of The Knot and Civilian. Some of the dreaminess of “Shriek” and “Schools Of Eyes” is in there, but it lifts off in a different way. The song’s more organic than Shriek, but its drama is primarily driven by the interplay of Wasner’s vocals and a lead synth line that waits to peel open into a wailing solo just short of the two minute mark. Much of Wye Oak’s pre-Shriek work felt like something mysterious and foreboding and brooding lurking in darkened forest corners. This returns to a more pastoral quality, but instead sounds like mystic visions at daybreak. If Tween is a document of an era of transition that also hints at what the new Wye Oak could explore, then “Watching The Waiting” is hopefully the promising preview of what’s to come.

From the album Tween, out now digitally on Merge Records. Vinyl / CD out August 5th.

WILSEN – ” Sea To Sea “

Posted: February 19, 2015 in MUSIC
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Tamsin Wilson’s voice is so intimate that her atmospheric indie pop feels like a long phone call with a significant other. It’s only fitting that she’s caught the attention of Wye Oak, a band known for merging subtle, commanding vocals with powerful instrumentals. The Baltimore duo have given Wilsen’s gentle ballad “Sea To Sea” a churning, electronic makeover. It’s a blissed-out collection of synth textures, but Wilson’s ethereal pipes are the glue that holds it all together.

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WYE OAK – ” The Tower “

Posted: January 2, 2015 in MUSIC
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Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have spent most of their lives in Baltimore, Maryland. But after two years of constant touring with Civilian, their highly lauded 2011 album, they landed on opposite sides of the country with an unforeseeable future ahead. Despite this newfound uncertainty, the two bandmates embraced their physical distance, passing ideas back and forth, allowing new work to evolve in their respective solitudes. Shriek is Wye Oaks fourth full-length and the culmination of their intent to express the emotional and intuitive self by acting out animalistic exclamations through cathartic release.
Newly inspired by playing bass, Jenn took up songwriting in a setting where the guitar did not dictate harmonic boundaries or require a call-and-response relationship with her voice, a hallmark of previous Wye Oak records. With her phrasing freed, now it is often Andy who interacts with Jenn’s vocals, playing syncopated and meditative keyboard parts, and the duo’s collaborative arrangements provide a backdrop in which both the arcs of melodies and the new rhythmic elements flourish.

On Wye Oak’s third album CIVILIAN they were a band with loud guitars and Lo-fi feedback, the Baltimore Duo of Jenn Wasner on guitars and multi instrumentalist Andy Stack who played drums and keyboards have swopped their original sound to a more electro Pop/Rock sound for their fourth album SHREIK