Archive for the ‘Wye Oak’ Category

[LISTENED TO: August 2015] The Organist

organistThe final 10 episodes of The Organist’s second season were of the same caliber of podcast.  I was surprised to see that it ended in March.  And, in a recent Kickstarter from McSweeney’s, the talk about getting funding to make more episodes.  I’d be bummed if they ran out of money to make more of these. Even if I have griped about the repeating, the quality of each episode is really quite good.

Episode 40: Cosmo’s Factory (December 30, 2014)
I was fascinated by this piece because I found the drumming in the song to be nothing special.  I never would have noticed all of the nuances that he fixated on.  And the song really isn’t that interesting.  Drummer Neal Morgan, who has supported Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan, Robin Pecknold, and others, sat down with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Doug Clifford to dive into ecstatic detail on the arrangement of “Long as I Can See The Light.”

Episode 41: A Funeral for Everyone I Knew (January 6, 2015)
This week they finally get around to the Greta Gerwig piece they mentioned in Episode 38.  It is Funeral for Everyone I Knew, a new radio play by novelist Jesse Ball.  Starring Greta Gerwig and Whip Hubley, the play follows the dark machinations of a dying man, and his elaborate plans for his own funeral.  Frankly it wasn’t really worth the wait, and Gerwig isn’t in it enough. (more…)

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may11SOUNDTRACK: WYE OAK-Tiny Desk Concert #52 (March 29, 2010).

wye oakI don’t know Wye Oak that well, except for some shows from NPR.  So this Tiny Desk Concert is a good closeup look at what they’re all about.

Wye Oak is just two people: Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack.  Wasner plays a wonderfully loud acoustic guitar.  She has great fingerpicking skills and there’s something about the way she uses her open low strings that adds a great percussive quality–she really wails on those chords!  It’s fun to watch her hands fly along the fretboard.

Stack plays a couple of drums with a mallet and bare hands (the percussion is subdued but effective), although evidently they are generally much louder in concert. But Stack also sings, plays keyboards and guitar.

“My Neighbor” comes from their then new EP My Neighbor/My Creator.  It’s a great song that showcases all of Wasner’s skills.  She has a great voice and I love the way she sings along to her playing. 

“Civilian” was, at the time, unreleased.  It is minor key and a bit darker.  Stack plays keyboard and drums simultaneously (something he evidently does in concert to amazing effect).

“Regret” comes from their first album. For this song, Stack takes over guitar (and the seat where the guitar is played) while Wasner sits behind the drums (to play keyboards).  This song is about not having health insurance.  It is a much more somber song and I don’t like it as much, even though it is pretty and Stack a has a nice voice.  I just like Wasner’s stuff better.

For the final song, they switch positions back.  It also comes from My Neighbor/My Creator and is called “I Hope You Die” (which she promises isn’t as dark as the title suggests).

I really enjoyed this show.  You can check it out here.

[READ: May 11, 2015] “My Life is a Joke”

I simply don’t get Sheila Heti.  And I assume that’s my fault.  But everything I read by her seems just so nebulous that I feel like I’m, missing something.

I liked the way this story started out: “When I died, there was no one around to see it.”  So the narrator is dead. Cool.

She says that her high school boyfriend wanted to marry her because he wanted to have a witness to his life (he eventually got married so he wound up okay).  The narrator never married and was hit by a car–she was not witnessed by anyone.  Well, at any rate the driver didn’t get there before she took her last breath, “So I can say I died alone.”

I even liked that the next paragraph started, “Now you can probably tell that I’m lying.”  About what?  Everything?  No, “If I really am O.K. with the fact that no one I loved witnessed my death, why did I come all he way back here from the dead?” (more…)

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CV1_TNY_11_12_12Tomine.inddSOUNDTRACK: WYE OAK-May 29, 2011, Sasquatch Festival (2011).

wye oakI don’t know all that much about Wye Oak.  This concert from Sasquatch has a very shoegazery vibe–like a more sultry Cocteau Twins.  This concert has a vibrancy and bounce that I like quite a lot.  The first half of the show comes from their most recent album Civilian.  Singer Jenn Wasner’s voice has a deep resonance that makes it sounds like high notes are not easy for her, but she manages them anyhow.   The songs are mostly a kind of indie rock, with fuzzy guitars.  Although “Dogs Eye” is a lot heavier with an interesting keyboard sound tacked on top.

The older songs aren’t quite as dynamic or interesting, even in this setting.  The whole show flows really well, but the beginning is a bit more exciting.

The strange thing is that her speaking voice sounds so southern when they’re just from Baltimore.

[READ: November 28, 2012] “Member/Guest”

This story is about Beckett, a fourteen-year old girl, and her friends.  They are members at a resort in the Hamptons, a resort they have been coming to since she was little.  I rather liked this description of her friends, “They were like a favorite TV show that had gone all ridiculous, yet you stayed tuned, hoping that the silly plots would get better.”  But rather than getting better, the girls were talking about what was in the shorts of Brad Sawyer and Justin Miller.  Natalie, the sexual oracle, (she showed them a Trojan the other day) predicted that it would look like Barbie’s leg.

The girls are naughty and vulgar (and rather funny).  Clio says they should all get out their Barbies for practice–their moms would be so happy to see them rediscovering their childhood toy!  There’s another funny sequence when Beckett sees her parents.  Her dad calls her toots and her mom mocks him saying “I didn’t know we were suddenly at the Copa.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WYE OAK: “The Alter” (2009).

NPR has introduced me to Wye Oak (with two concert downloads).  This is the official single from the recent album Civilian.

It is a cool swirly track which avoids being ethereal because of the rocking drums.  It feels a bit like the Cocteau Twins without being otherworldly.  And then there’s Jenn Wasner’s voice which is deep in a kind of Alison Moyet way.  This song features an awesome guitar swirl in the center which is sort of a guitar solo but isn’t.

The song builds over the course of the three minutes with more instruments and more voices layered over and over–there’s no real chorus.  Not bad for a duo.  Soon they’ll be some full concerts reviews of the band.

[READ: June 29, 2011] Babymouse: Queen of the World!

So this is the first Babymouse book: Queen of the World.  This one sets up the series and satisfies so many unanswered questions.  No, not really.

This first book has all of the trappings of the other two books that I read: fantasy sequences drawn in pink (good diversity here–a horror story, a space story, Cinderella), the same cast (including the arch-enemy Felicia Furrypaws), and more humorous interactions between Babymouse and the narrator (and a lot of Babymouse’s slogan: “typical.”) (more…)

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