Alex's Underrated Albums//Review Series: Wye Oak – The Knot (Released 2009)

By Alex Goyetche

Wye Oak is a two-piece indie-folk-rock duo from Baltimore, a city that seems to be overflowing with talent in recent years. Consisting of Jenn Wasner on lead vocals and guitar and Andy Stack on drums, synth, and backing vocals. The duo began in 2006 six and released their first album “If Children” in 2007.

2009 saw them release their sophomore record “The Knot”. I found this record reviewed on an indie music “Widget” I have on my Mac. Try to ignore the laugh out loud pretensions of that last sentence while I get into what a lovely discovery it was.

Walking around late 2009 in a fog-like malaise this album nearly smacked me into unconsciousness. From the opening seconds of the first track “Milk and Honey”, with the title reminding us all of things once promised and not received, I fell in awe of the rough and tumble beauty of this groups sound.

Haunting double tracked vocals by Wasner destroyed a hurtle I often find myself faced with when listening to female fronted bands. That being that the lyrics, poetic and genre-less, completely resonated with my adolescent male situation, even though they draw from the personal experience of a grown woman.

Supported by the throwback bluesy guitar style and the surprisingly powerful one-man rhythm section, Wye Oak carried me in good hands.

For me the album comes to it’s “ne plus ultra” in the third track “Take It In”. An absolutely heart crushing song that speaks to anyone who stills bears the ghost pains of a former lover.

An issue some may have with the album is that during the guitar heavy sections of the songs, the volume jumps from slightly quiet to very, very loud. Somewhat similar to the way Bob Dylan’s harmonica pops out and near deafens the listener on those magical early records. Not something I mind so much, but something to be warned about.

While most of the songs are somewhat ethereal and feel like softly exhaling cigarette smoke, the band effortlessly proves on tracks like “Tattoo” that they can produce upbeat indie pop songs worthy of an Ipod commercial.

Each track captures a stilted feeling, yet still shockingly touching and beautiful. For better or for worse, life goes on. But thankfully it gives us works as reflective as Wye Oak’s.

With the release of their 2011 CD “Civilian” I hope this band reaches all the heights possible. But while that happens, I recommend you check them out, and check out their underrated album “The Knot”.


1 comment:

JCW said...

Great album. All three of their releases are incredible. Stack sang a bit more on If Children and it created a broader dynamic but I still think they've got a pretty diverse sound for a two-piece.

Dreamlike and emotional, this is a band everyone should check out. I also recommend checking out their covers of Strangers by The Kinks and Mother by Danzig on the AV Club's series AV Undercover.