Wye Oak’s new record, Shriek, has a lot of angles and edges. There is graceful lurching, awkward effortlessness. These songs all ride hard on a rhythm and bounce and sway in ways that are tough to uncover on first listen, but that become intensely alluring over time–and I think at least some of that has to do with the way Jenn Wasner inhabits the syllables of her lyrics so intensely (in this she reminds me a little of Malkmus or even Dave Portner, who both tend to stretch and bend words to suit their purposes). She sings with the secret delight of a true word-lover, digging into each phoneme: listen to the line in “Shriek” where she sings, “other words speak/unspeakable/so full/is your affection,” and try not to be awed by the wonderful and satisfying sounds of those words strung together. Shriek is the kind of album that gets its hooks in you without your realizing it–where you might go a couple days without listening to it and then you wake up one morning with a Wye Oak melody in your head that feels essential, somehow, to your existence. These songs are lovely clockwork, with their quality of seeming both set in place and set in motion, beautiful to behold on their own and kind of breathtakingly great when put together.

[BUY Shriek]

Extraordinary editions


Pissed Jeans – Cafeteria Food

No one likes Pissed Jeans as much as they should, really. This is a band that should be celebrated, adored, idolized. Multiple encomia should be dedicated to them on a weekly basis, I believe, via as many different media as is feasible: newspaper, blog, email chain, graffiti, sky-written poem.

No one in Pennsylvania, Pissed Jeans’ home state, even likes them as much as they should. If there were any justice reigning over the gray bleak stretches of the keystone state, Pissed Jeans would be recognized as the official band of PA. I don’t know who currently holds that office, maybe G. Love and Special Sauce? Pissed Jeans write excellent songs that are often very funny, or very perceptive–or mostly both. There is nothing not-wonderful about these lines from Cafeteria Food: “Stick figure family on the back of your car/you know I find that to be rude/Walking around like you own the place/you must think you’re some kind of dude.” Matt Korvette goes on like this (in a way that’s a little reminiscent of George Perec’s The Art of Asking your Boss for a Raise) and later mentions receiving an email flashing on his screen, and there’s a totally beautiful off-song chime to mark the moment. Not a lot of bands are capable of that.

[BUY Honeys]

[Also have to state again that Matt Korvette runs his own amazing music website, Yellow Green Red. He writes exceedingly well about what seems like thousands of records.]

{Image is: “Olmeca 1370 BCE” by Dewey Tafoya}



Gesaffelstein – Viol

Miyako stood on the platform and waited for the train. A sign’s bright yellow digital display said the train was on time, but that was not news, for the trains were always on time. She rubbed her hands up and down her swollen belly, almost as a reflex. Two more months. She did not know what her parents would say. Nagano was a different world. Before she left for university, her friends back home used to tease her and say, “you’ll be such a Tokyo girl. You’ll forget about us.” She had changed, that was true, but she hadn’t forgotten about them. Although Tokyo offered her everything she could want, she often–and especially lately–found her thoughts drifting back home, to images of the mountains, her parents’ house, the little park in the center of the city…

She looked at her phone. No messages. Nothing. What could he be doing? Silent Hichachu. He was at work, she knew. Busy. Adding and subtracting. Finding more ways for the company to succeed. But still. He knew how nervous she was to go home. He’d told her that he had to stay in Tokyo and work, that this was an important time in his career and he could not get away to accompany her to Nagano. Why did he not write? Miyako thought there was almost nothing better in life than the little green flash of light that occurred when a message arrived on her phone–she could write poems about that light.

She felt a rush of air as the train pulled into the station and came to a stop. She boarded and found her seat, next to the window. An older man with gray hair and a rumpled suit sat down next to her. He immediately closed his eyes and fell asleep, seemingly able to slip into and out of consciousness at will. Miyako wished she could do that.

She pulled out her phone to check again. Nothing from Hichachu. She sighed. She would send him a text sticker. No. Several stickers. To let him know. First a panda with tears streaming from its eyes. Next, she sent a laughing horse. Then a puppy riding a butterfly. And a pink kitten bearing its teeth in a playful grimace. Then a yawning koala bear in a tuxedo. Finally, a penguin with cartoon hearts in its eyes. Hichachu would know what that meant. He would understand. The train accelerated. She stared out the window at the pink-white blur of the blooming cherry trees.

[BUY Conspiracy Pt. 2]