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coverpic flag US - Maryland - Full Moon 217 - 05/14/14

Wye Oak
Shriek
Merge Records

"The Wye Oak was the honorary state tree of Maryland, and the largest white oak tree in the United States. Located in the town of Wye Mills, Talbot County, Maryland, the Wye Oak was believed to be over 460 years old at the time of its destruction during a severe thunderstorm on June 6, 2002, and measured 31 feet 10 inches (970 cm) in circumference of the trunk at breast height, 96 feet (29 m) high, with a crown spread of 119 feet (36 m). It is believed that the acorn that became the oak germinated around the year 1540." (Wikipedia.org)

The former Baltimore, Maryland based (they now operate and create their music separately, from opposite sides of the US, East Coast to the West Coast) duo Wye Oak are Jenn Wasner (lead vocals, guitars) and Andy Stack (synthesizer, piano, drums, percussion), and Shriek is their fourth album so far. Their style is whip smart, snappy and expressive pop minimalism, with a little less electronic sway and ambient feel than, say, Beach House. Yet they are somewhat related musically. The music of Wye Oak pulsate slowly in a calm pop landscape. Wasner's mild vocals and guitar (electric and acoustic) plucking leans on Stack's (who has moved west) comfortable and chilling melodic and rhythmic 'backdrop', resulting in a tender and gentle musical flow. The album Civilian (2011, their first for Merge), saw a bigger audience coming, following critical acclaim, such as: "This is nervy, charged music, buzzing like a brain in heat." (Pitchfork), and: "...by turns dream, expansive and, ultimately, triumphant. (Rolling Stone).

Shriek is indeed a comfortable listen, with 10 songs hovering slowly over green pastures, through leaves of tall trees, and over sandy beach dunes. This is pop music flowing through sunny clouds, stretching for sunbeams and raindrops, for morning dew and evening mist. Elegance, grace, and artistic playfulness. This is no rock, no roll, just pop music at ease.

Wye Oak are on tour from now and on: Europe, USA and then back to Europe, and they've got big hearts for more than grand pop music: USD 2 of every ticket sold on the US dates will go to a local charity of the band's choice in each town they visit.

Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Wye Oak article/review: Tween.

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