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Indie-rock Americana Rising: Wye Oak Ties ‘The Knot’

If one were to unravel the ties that bind when it comes to Wye Oak, one would surely link the twosome to that Sparkhawk couple that holds down Low. There’s something in Wye Oak’s stately, almost elegaic rhythms and the way the Baltimore duo works in morose tones and a minor key, with appreciation for a good drone, on its second album, The Knot (Merge), that reminds one of the other’s sad-eyed and beautiful downers. On “Mary Is Mary,” the guitar and organ take on funereal hues, and Jenn Wasner’s cry cuts through the never-out-of-hand noise. And of course, there are the songs, which cast a dour eye toward relationships of all stripes.

Yet that’s all somewhat misleading: Wye Oak works with the same sepia-tone folk-rock palette of Americana Gothic as the Sparhawks and maybe Earth, but apart from those terminally saddened few -- the slow-fi and the sorrowful -- Wasner and Andrew Stack manage to sound like few others, thanks to a knack at orchestral arrangements that hint at much listening to Arcade Fire, but never bow to the other band. Carefully thought-out musical textures reminiscent of 4AD’s heyday and even horns ornament The Knot -- it’s a wedding of indie rock and that delightfully peculiar language that emerges from musicians who have found their own voice.

 

 

"Please Concrete" from Wye Oak's last album, If Children.