As I’m sure many of you know, Jenn Wasner is a long time favorite around the ATH offices with her years spent fronting Wye Oak and also in her side project Flock of Dimes. Her release last year, Head of Roses, was high on my list of top albums from 2021 and I’m sure some tracks snuck into DJ nights in the Spring. With such a stellar release, Wasner surely had a ton of material in the bank so it comes as no surprise to see her putting out an album of unreleased gems, bootlegs, and live recordings. Head of Roses: Phantom Limb will see a digital release on April 15th and features this stunning new track called “It Just Goes On”. Wasner’s voice is still one of the strongest and most enchanting in the music world today.
Phew, the end of the year really snuck up on me this time and it’s crazy to think we are moving on from the 2010s. Before we do so, Nathan and I of course want to share some of our favorite things from the year for those of you who care to hear our opinions. I am typically the songs guy and Nathan usually takes on the albums, so here it is, my favorites from this year. Hit the jump for my list and a Spotify playlist to take with you.
I am not sure what happened to my close relationship with Baltimore’s finest Wye Oak over the last few years, but I honestly didn’t spend a lot of time with their last two releases. Maybe it was the more electronic sound of 2015’s Shriek that threw me for a loop after many years of die hard fandom from their stunning debut If Children to the absolutely perfect 2011 release Civilian. For whatever reason I dismissed the band for a few years, I am notwback in full force with this new single “Fortune”. It’s a total stunner of a track with super heavy bass and guitar which harkens back to releases like the My Neighbor/My Creator EP from 2010. Simply put, I cannot get enough of this song today. Play, repeat.
Right now this song is intended only as a one off single as Andy and Jenn begin a short tour in February. Those dates can be found here.
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Your friendly neighborhood ATH staff members have emerged from SXSW week and I think we’re all finally ready to reminiscence on what transpired. As we’ve done in the past, it seems like a perfect time to hand out some awards for the festival with superlatives that we made up like 5 minutes ago. Keep in mind we saw a lot of bands, had a bit to drink, and ventured out to more venues than we can possibly remember. So buckle up, hit the jump and see who we deemed worthy and deserving of our very prestigious awards.
If you’re looking for shows to attend this week, odds are you’ve found something to your liking. But, before the work week starts back up, there’s a nice little show over at the Parish featuring Wye Oak that you should catch. They’ll be playing with Pattern is Movement, and you can buy yourself a ticket to the show right HERE. We caught up with Andy real quickly for some questions about their tour, and their latest album, Shriek. Read on for the interview. Read more
In 2011 we welcomed Wye Oak’s stunning third full length release, Civilian, which was a record of huge growth and refinement for Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. After such a great album, it’s often hard to imagine where a band will travel next, especially one so small as this duo. This forth time around, the two have gone electronic, ditching the guitars from before and replacing them with atmospheric and electronic sounds. It is an interesting choice, especially after the success of their last release and one that comes with its rewards and drawbacks.
They open slowly this time around with “Before,” and immediately the new style is audible; a synthetic soundscape fills your ears as this duo transport you to a space of tranquility and effortless sound. The percussion is distant, with a faded, subtle quality that offers a dreamy kind of mood to the tune. Of course you have Wasner’s indistinguishable vocals that confess the opening and closing line of the song: “This morning/ I woke up on the floor/ thinking I’d never dreamed before.” The mood of the album is elucidated in that brief lyric; the whole thing feels a bit like melancholic and unpinned nostalgia expressed via delicate sound.
I was quite impressed with the first half of the album; while the sound is not overwhelmingly complex or drastic, the songs they’ve crafted are a solid step into the electronic side of things. Title track, “Shriek,” picks the tempo up a little while maintaining that dream-upon-waking atmosphere. Lead single and my personal favorite track, “Glory,” will have you dancing along to the beat while the vocals craft a bit of drama to latch onto, propelling the song from just being a groovy number.
While there are still some pretty good tracks on Shriek that beg for repeated listening, the sweeping majesty that was introduced on the past album isn’t really matched here. I find myself missing the clean guitar and Wasner’s crisp and elegant vocals that Wye Oak did so well the last time around. After the mid point of the album there is certainly a drop off in the level of intrigue in the tracks and the minimalist sound becomes a bit bleak. That being said, I appreciate the last song, “Logic of Color, ” as the electronic elements take a backseat to the vocals and round out the album with a track reminiscent of those encountered earlier on the album.
Shriek takes Wye Oak down a different path than we’ve seen them go before, and it is enticing for the most part, but I wish a few of the tracks went a little further down this trail and out of the box.
Coachella is again using the two weekend format and will feature Outkast, Muse and Arcade Fire as headliners. I get Outkast and Arcade Fire, but please stop booking Muse at every festival. Please. It has to stop. I walk out when I hear Muse; it is my “you’re drunk, go home” alert. Or maybe that is why they are booked as headliners. “Hope you had fun, this is your queue to leave and rest up for tomorrow.” So many lasers. So many.
The festival is getting spendy, passes are $375 and $435 with daily shuttle service. Yikes. Weekend One only has the passes with shuttle service available. VIP will run you $799 with $150 more for parking.
Notables for me on the lineup, as with most festivals, are further down the list: Flume, Jagwar Ma, Dum Dum Girls, Wye Oak, Holy Ghost!, Blood Orange, Mogwai, Chvrches, STRFKR, Daughter, Poolside, Surfer Blood. Mid-levels I’d be stoked on are Bryan Ferry, The Knife, Pet Shop Boys, Beck, Neutral Milk, Motorhead and Little Dragon. You going to the desert? You wearing flip-flops?
Our year end coverage begins with the three chiefs over at the ATH offices reveling in what was an incredible year in Austin, musically speaking. Tons of rad bands blew us away with their live sets, and, well, there were just tons of bands. I think we did more show coverage this year than in previous years, but as always, the great thing about our site is diversity. We’re also linking back to our full reviews and photos of some of these nights, so you can get more of a feel of our thoughts, not to mention, checking out Brian’s great photographic 2012. Read on for thoughts on live acts from the three main contributors.
I really can’t seem to get enough of Jenn Wasner as of late. After the recent show in Marfa with her veteran band Wye Oak, I found myself returning to the band’s back catalogue and falling in love all over again. Her songwriting is always superb and her voice is easily one of the best female voices in the game. This post is about Flock of Dimes though, which you may or may not know, is the more experimental side project of the Wye Oak leading lady. A new tune by her solo endeavor called “Curtain” can be found below in a handy soundcloud streamer. It’s a great little number that somehow garnishes even more respect from this guy. You can pick up a hard copy of this tune on 7″ via Merge Records on September 25th.
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Last night’s show at Emos was a much-anticipated gig, featuring two huge acts touring together. Wye Oak served as the appetizer for the Dirty Projectors, setting us all up for what would be a pretty solid evening all around.
Read on for more thoughts, and for great pics by B. Gray.