Wye Oak — Shriek
¬• Je to jejich nejosobitější a nejvíce sebevědomé album. Inženýr, a koproducent Nicolas Vernhes z Greenpoint, Brooklyn, přinesl tvůrčí a pokrokové přístupy k výrobě a potvrdil tak celkově nový směr. Výsledkem je neoddiskutovatelná vřelost. Shriek je kompletní příběh dezorientace, ztráty, obnovy a posílení. Kontemplativní tón alba připomíná new wave sophisticates jako v případě Japan nebo Talk Talk — skupin, které svou hudbou nutily spíše snít než tancovat. Něžný alt Jenn Wasner citelně prošel intenzivním hlasovým školením a přesvědčuje posluchače zůstat s ní. Zpívá s větší jistotou a širším rozsahem a její hlas zabírá více místa na této desce. Velmi toužím být na jejich koncertě a vyslechnout si živě I Know The Law.
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Album release: April 29, 2014
Record Label: Merge Records
01. Before 4:19
02. Shriek 3:39
03. The Tower 4:06
04. Glory 4:53
05. Sick Talk 4:26
06. Schools Of Eyes 4:15
07. Despicable Animal 4:50
08. Paradise 4:22
09. I Know The Law 3:44
10. Logic Of Color 3:00
℗ 2014 Merge Records
¬• Jenn Wasner — Bass, Lead vocals
¬• Andy Stack — Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer, Piano
¬• Ashley North Compton Artwork, Layout
¬• Joe Lambert Mastering
¬• Andy Stack Composer, Engineer, Group Member
¬• Nicolas Vernhes Engineer, Mixing, Producer
¬• Jenn Wasner Composer, Engineer, Group Member, Lyricist
¬• Gabe Wax Assistant Engineer
¬• 2014 The Billboard 200 #67
¬• 2014 Top Independent Albums #17
¬• 2014 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums #12
¬• 2014 Top Rock Albums #21
Review by Tim Sendra; Score: ****
¬• After pushing their noisy, guitar–driven indie rock as far as it would go on 2011's Civilian and the massive tour that followed its release, the duo behind Wye Oak decided it was time for a drastic change. Drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack moved away from Baltimore, while vocalist/guitarist Jenn Wasner launched two new projects (Flock of Dimes, Dungeonesse) that traded in indie rock for something more electronic and R&B–based, respectively. When Stack and Wasner got back together to start working on their fourth album, Shriek, they ditched the straightforward, guitar–centric approach of previous efforts and incorporated elements from Wasner’s solo projects instead, with songs being written on bass instead of guitar. This choice opens up their sound to an incredible degree, giving Wasner’s rich vocals a backing that's more rhythmically interesting and warmly enveloping. While there are still some electric guitars on board, they are used as the occasional splash of noisy color. The album is built around swooning banks of synths, bleeping key–based melodies, Stack’s choppy drum patterns and programs, and Wasner's bouncy basslines. She proves to be just as adept at crafting memorable bass parts as she was bashing and strumming them out on guitars. Her vocals rise to the challenge of the revamped sound to become her most powerful and varied yet; her work with Dungeonesse, where she had to channel her inner dance music belter, seems to have really inspired her. Not only did Wye Oak change up their sound drastically, they did the same with their songwriting. There’s precious little folk left in their songs, and not much indie rock either. Instead, they mix up some quiet storm balladry, some Everything But the Girl–ish crooning, a touch of '80s pop, and a lot of restraint to get a nice hybrid that is pretty unique compared to what's going on in 2014’s indie scene. Even the songs that do fall firmly within the indie rock framework, like "Paradise," are more complicated and interesting than what the duo was doing before. It makes for an incredibly sophisticated and enriching album that's very easy to sink into deeply and completely, the emotions and arrangements filling your ears and heart with a flowing warmth. Sure, the sound of Shriek may scare off people who need guitars to be the focal point of their indie rock, but for anyone with a slightly more experimental nature or anyone who likes synths and subtlety and wonderfully emotive vocals, it's a great and welcome surprise that's a brilliant step forward for Wye Oak.
¬• "Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak have spent most of their lives in Baltimore, Maryland. But after two years of constant touring with Civilian, their lauded 2011 album, they landed on opposite sides of the country with an unforeseeable future. Despite this newfound uncertainty, the two embraced their physical distance, passing ideas back and forth, allowing work to evolve in their respective solitudes. Shriek is Wye Oak’s fourth full–length and the culmination of their intent to express the emotional and intuitive self by acting out animalistic exclamations through cathartic release.
¬• It is their most personal and confident declaration yet.
¬• Newly inspired by playing bass, Jenn took up songwriting in a setting where the guitar did not dictate harmonic boundaries or require a call–and–response relationship with her voice, a hallmark of previous Wye Oak records. With her phrasing freed, now it is often Andy who interacts with Jenn’s vocals, playing syncopated and meditative keyboard parts, and the duo’s collaborative arrangements provide a backdrop in which both the arcs of melodies and the new rhythmic elements flourish.
¬• To engineer, mix, and co–produce, they brought in Nicolas Vernhes of the Rare Book Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, whose inventive and forward–thinking approaches to production complemented their new direction. The result is a record of indisputable humanity. Shriek is a complete narrative of disorientation, loss, renewal, and empowerment.
¬• Bundles include an exclusive Wye Oak t–shirt only available in the Merge webstore. T–shirts feature black ink printed on platinum Royal Apparel t–shirts (Made in USA)."
¬• "A Cambrai, ce groupe se serait appelé Les Betises; a Aix, Les Calissons. Mais le symbole de leur Etat du Maryland étant un vénérable chene blanc, ils se sont appelés Wye Oak. Autrefois, leur musique meme était taillée dans ce bois ancestral, en un folk reveur qui évoquait déja de loin, dans ses gouts pour la fugue et la grandeur, leurs concitoyens de Beach House. Duo pareillement mixte, Wye Oak s’enfonce a son tour dans ces utopies cotonneuses, ces mélodies chimériques, ces constructions en dédales qui font la grâce de Beach House.
¬• A l’époque du brillant Civilian de 2011, ces vagues d’éther étaient encore secouées en tempetes électriques par une guitare omniprésente : elle n’est plus, et c’est la grande nouveauté, la pierre angulaire — et du coup le mur d’enceinte, voire de prison — de ces chansons libérées. Plus rythmique, voire sautillant, Shriek fait danser les reves éveillés, produit en un millefeuille d’or, de mercure et de trous noirs par le Français Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Deerhunter…) dans son usine a utopies de Brooklyn. Parfois un peu raide et statique dans le passé, Wye Oak y a gagné une souplesse, une euphorie et une sérenité ine´dites, a` la Cocteau Twins, qui font des merveilles sur Schools of Eyes ou l’extravagant Glory. Une chanson s’appelle meme Paradise — on s’en approche." (source: www.lesinrocks.com )
By ANN POWERS, April 20, 201411:06 PM ET
¬• At some point, even babies who bask in the warmth of attachment parenting need to learn to self–soothe — to regulate their emotions without their parents’ guidance or even a hug. Often they do it with a thing: a blankie, a binky, a stuffie. Adults are expected to be free of such fixations, but the truth is, inanimate enablers still fill our lives. Musicians bring them right onstage. Why do you think guitarists name their stringed companions? Electricity makes these toys speak.
¬• But what if your serious toy, your amanuensis, stopped listening and responding? ¬• Wye Oak's new album Shriek was inspired by such a crisis. Exhausted after a punishingly long tour to support the duo’s breakthrough album Civilian, Jenn Wasner returned to Baltimore feeling depressed and unable to write. Her trusty Reverend Jetstream only seemed to mock her. Wasner finally found solace and new inspiration in other instruments, especially the bass. Her bandmate, Andy Stack, mostly a drummer in the past, put his talismans partially aside in favor of synthesizers. Then, physically separated by the miles between Stack’s Texas home and Wasner’s on the East Coast, but connected by the technology their analog synths anticipated, they wrote a bunch of songs that explore existential uncertainty, yet sound like comfort.
¬• Comfort might be too solid a word. It conjures images of pillows, and Shriek’s songs are more like thick atmospheres made for floating and falling, cloud covers built of shifting emotions. They could be called synth–pop, but their meanings unfold in slower–moving, subtler gradations than that label implies. The album’s contemplative tone recalls New Wave sophisticates like Japan or Talk Talk — groups who made music for dreaming more than dancing. The insular spaciousness of ‘90s R&B savants like Aaliyah and TLC also make a mark. But the story is Wasner’s, a struggle she has described as an "intense journey" that "happened in the confines of my own skull." Wasner’s lyrics often mention the sleep cycle, and describe elusive, cruel objects of fear and desire who could be real lovers, but seem more like aspects of her own confused psyche.
¬• Her lyrics tend toward poeticism, with images that could at times be apocalyptic. ¬• "Even as I stand, is the ever after," she sings in "Paradise." "See it as it lands, fire over water." That’s pretty Biblical, but Wasner's gentle alto, made stronger by voice training, persuades the listener to stay with her. "I fear no information," she sings over Stack's birdsong dreams in the title track. "I'm following how it seems in present dreams." Her willingness to gaze inward encourages the same in others.
¬• The contained but deep lushness of Shriek makes the album itself an ideal tool for calming the old thought machine. The album itself could become your talisman, treasured and well–used after many repeated listenings. The process of making this music, Wasner implies in the mystical, impeccably modulated "Before," made her "brand new." Getting lost in this music could have a similarly healing effect on others.
By Harley Brown; April 28, 2014; Score: 7.2
By Max Freedman April 30, 2014; Score: 7.7
By Ally Schweitzer