Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Milk And Honey
Review of Wye Oak's The Knot
Dan StackI quite literally swooned when I first heard Baltimore duo Wye Oak via “Warning”, the first promo MP3 from their debut album If Children in January 2008 – for a completely unknown band to hit all the right buttons for me at first listen was a pretty remarkable thing. And yet the album itself failed to build on that excitement for no one particular reason.
Best I can reason is that while the ingredients of their sound – plaintive country-folking hurt mixed with crashing, ‘gazey guitars and droning synth tones, topped with Jenn Wasser’s aching vocals – seem tailor-made to trigger my endorphin receptors, the record seemed too hesitant to really connect. It was like the band felt like a couple of kids suddenly invited to the grown-up’s table, and were a bit overwhelmed by it all. Which, for a pair of musicians barely into their twenties suddenly signed to one of America’s top independent labels, they essentially were.
And so when I heard “Take It In”, the achingly gorgeous promo MP3 from their second album and again swooned, I wasn’t sure whether that would carry over to The Knot, out this week, as a whole. Short answer – it does, and quite heartily. The Knot is a much bigger album than its predecessor. Sonically, the louds are much louder, the quiets much quieter and the textures richer and more varied – and emotionally, the highs more ecstatic and the lows more despairing. The reluctance that permeated If Children has largely been replaced with a greater confidence, and while it may be true that The Knot still drifts in points towards the monochromatic, there’s no question that it marks a big step forward for the band and begins to deliver on their immense promise. Wye Oak are at the grown-ups table because they belong there.
The Baltimore Sun has a feature piece on the band. There’s no local date at the moment but their tour itinerary takes them through the US, across to Europe and back again in the Fall. I saw them >at SxSW last year and while they don’t have immense onstage charisma, it’s amazing to watch Andy Stack work both the drums and keyboards simultaneously. I recommend catching them if they’re in your neck of the woods.
Here’s an odd pairing – the stately folk-rock of Grand Archives and the ADD-prog hijinks of The Most Serene Republic. But paired they are for a North American tour that will be at the Mod Club in Toronto on October 15. Grand Archives’ new album Keep In Mind Frankenstein is out September 8, The Most Serene Republic’s …And The Ever-Expanding Universe is out now. The National Post has an interview with Milton’s finest.
Metric have set a live date on October 20 at Massey Hall with The Stills as support. That is a looooong way from their September 2003 show at the Horseshoe where they didn’t even bother with advance tickets.
A Place To Bury Strangers are making their musical manifesto very clear with the title of their second album – Exploding Head is due out October 6 and will be their first for Mute Records. They’ve already lined up a Fall tour to promote, including an October 27 date at the Mod Club in Toronto. They’re changing up dance partners all the while they’re on the road, but that show will feature Dead Confederate and All The Saints as support.
Video: Wheat – “Changes Is”
Frank Black tells Music Radar that “As far as any new Pixies records, I’m literally in the dark,” so anyone flocking to Virgin Festival at Burl’s Creek on August 29 had best be prepared to only hear the classics. Try to contain your disappointment.
And oh yeah, this was news to me so it might be news to you; that free Dears show at Harbourfront this Sunday is a matinee show – they’re on the Sirius Stage at 3PM. And Laura Barrett is on the Redpath Stage at 4:30PM, since you’ll already be there.