Baltimore duo Wye Oak visit Pittsburgh this Friday, May 2, at Mr. Smalls, in support of their new album, Shriek. Their previous release, Civilian, cemented their status as a can't-miss band. The Onion's AV Club named it their album of the year for 2011, ahead of albums by Bon Iver, St. Vincent, and other indie rock essentials.
Wye Oak's new album is, in some ways, a simplification. Gone are the fuzzed out guitar parts. In fact, the guitar is gone completely, swapped out for synth and bass. In an interview with the City Paper, drummer/vocalist/ Andy Stack explained that the change was out of necessity:
"I think when we started recording [Shriek], it was imperative that we make a different-sounding record," says Stack, "and that we use different instrumentation, different stylistic touch-points. And if we weren't going to do that, if all we could do is be a guitar band doing neo-folk or whatever people want to call it, I don't think we'd still be a band. I think we would've just called it a day."
It's probably too much to ask for Shriek to become Wye Oak's Kid A – a radically different yet brilliant follow-up to an acclaimed third album - but the reviews so far seem to validate this evolution in Wye Oak's sound. British music site MusicOMH called Shriek "a powerful reminder of how refreshing and affecting bands can be if they have the confidence, self-awareness and ambition to look beyond their usual horizons." (They gave the album 4.5/5 stars.) Judge for yourself: here's the lead single from Shriek, "The Tower."
Tickets for this all-ages performance cost $18 and are available via Ticketweb. Or, if you prefer, enter our contest to win two tickets to the show. Simply email us your name to pghmusicreport [at] gmail.com, and put Wye Oak in the subject line. We'll announce a winner Wednesday night.
Don't miss the opener for this one. Braids, an experimental indie rock band from Montreal, blend shoegaze and dream pop to great success. Their 2011 release, Native Speaker, was shortlisted for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize (Arcade Fire won that year, for The Suburbs). They've earned comparisons to Grimes, The XX and early Animal Collective, but none seem to fit beyond a song or two. Get out to Millvale early and see what bands you can come up with.
-- B. Conway