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Wye Oak: The Knot


Wye Oak

Album: The Knot
Label: Merge

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Certain critical terms get taken as pejorative when they’re merely descriptive: “Droning,” for example, doesn’t necessarily mean boring or moribund. When used to describe a sound, “drone” usually means “a low hum,” and when employed by a band as skilled as Maryland’s Wye Oak, a low hum can convey a rich palette. The duo’s second album The Knot drones the way Yo La Tengo drones, or Spinanes when they were around. Lead singer-guitarist Jenn Wasner is a belter who lets up only to step on a pedal and let fly with some loud, distorted, moaning guitar. Drummer/organist Andy Stack keeps a straightforward beat, while adding some additional reverberation and shade with his keyboards. The songs on The Knot range from the pounding, cavernous “Take It In” to the lilting, catchy “Siamese,” but all of them rely on a few simple sounds vibrating steadily in their own individual spaces, before rolling on top of each other like lovers who’ve been waiting all day for a little privacy. (Many of the album's songs are about couples in crisis, which only adds an extra layer of tension to The Knot’s sound.) Wye Oak isn’t breaking any new ground in the exciting field of drone-exploration, but the band’s tone is striking—like a tuning fork with the blues.