Get To Know: Wye Oak

Wye Oak are proud natives of Baltimore, Maryland, as evidenced with the beginning of their Sunday afternoon Outside Lands set, “Hi, We’re Wye Oak from Baltimore, Maryland.”  The name Wye Oak comes from an old white oak tree that (until it’s demise in 2002 during a bad storm) was the largest white oak in the United States.

This gothy, sometimes folky, sometimes shoegazey duo evolves around Jenn Wasner’s ethereal voice and fuzzy serenading guitar and Andy Stack’s drums and synthesizer.  I spent most of the little set that I saw watching Andy in awe.  He was playing the drums with one hand and the keyboard with the other.  He wasn’t playing like a metal drummer or anything, but, still, its two different beats and hand placements with each hand.  It is very impressive to see.

Wye Oak (originally named Monarch) formed in mid 2006, and they self-released their first LP If Children in 2007.  They signed to Merge Records in 2008, and If Children was re-released under Merge.  They followed up If Children with another LP The Knot and an EP My Neighbor/My Creator in 2009.  Both of these early releases received moderate critical acclaim.  In March 2011, Wye Oak released Civilian which has received considerably more acclaim and has been receiving considerable buzz in the underground/indie circuit…. and for good reason.  The new album is great, and, again, their set was one of the highlights of my Outside Lands experience.

Wye Oak is currently touring on the US and European festival circuit.  They will also be supporting the likes of The Decemberists, The National, Yo La Tengo, Okkervil River, and Explosion In The Sky throughout the US before returning to Europe this fall.  There are no plans for a Nashville gig at the moment, but surely these guys will be heading out on their own headlining tour soon.  I’ll keep an eye out for a local gig, or you can get your road trip on and head to Atlanta (on 9/29/11 opening for Explosions In The Sky at The Tabernacle) or Asheville, NC (on 9/30/11 opening for Explosions In The Sky at The Orange Peel) to see them.

I have included a few of my favorite songs from each of the first three albums.  The first two songs are from the Civilian release, and you can hear from those how the band has matured since the earlier releases.  Once you get to know them, head out to your local record store to pick up a copy.  You can also check out their 2008 Daytrotter session & their 2011 KEXP session.

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1 comment

  1. That sounds like a great live set. Hopefully they’ll make a Nashville stop in the near future.

    I love their video for “Fish”. It features beautiful handcrafted shadow-puppets from a Baltimore artist, and NPR did a good write up of it here: https://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2011/04/08/135182441/first-watch-wye-oak-fish

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