KNOT IN THE OAK Wye Oak

An extensive two-month tour kicks off
this week for the Baltimore
duo.

 

BY SCOTT
DUDELSON

 

As a teenager,
Wye Oak singer Jenn Wasner knew that becoming a professional musician was not
just a youthful desire but rather a life necessity. “There wasn’t much I knew
how to do,” says Wasner, “or wanted to do, for that matter.” After a few years
of gigging in high-school, Wasner and multi-instrumentalist/studio whiz Andy
Stack formed the first incarnation of Wye Oak in 2006 (under the moniker
Monarch) in a small basement with a few microphones, instruments and some
recording equipment. The duo’s subsequent recording – In Children – caught the ear of Merge Records co-founder Mac
McCaughan, who Wasner says “liked the record and wanted to make sure people
heard it.” However, by the time Merge released In Children in 2008, the band was already two years removed from
those recording sessions and in the process of fleshing out the grand ideas that
would become 2009’S The Knot.

 

It’s an expansive
disc that lifts, lulls and crashes hard throughout the 10-song cycle. Although
Wasner and Stack collaborated on the songwriting and arrangements, Stack
produced The Knot and it’s his
attention to the mix that makes this record shine, and the band so difficult to
pigeonhole. Songs like “Take it In” and “Mary is Mary,” with their dark
melodies and foreboding tone, sound as if they belong on a My Bloody Valentine
record, while others like “Tattoo” and “Talking about Money” are simple country
hymns built on top a massive wall of sound.

 

But with only
the two of them hitting the road to support the album, it’s easy to wonder how
they will perform these complex songs in a live setting. “Andy has worked out
this thing where he plays the drum with one hand and organ with other hand, I
play guitar and we both have some loops that we work with,” explains Wasner.
“I’ve always also believed that if a song is strong enough, it will be able to
stand up in any incarnation.”

 

 

Wye Oak’s U.S.
tour starts March 12 in Frederick,
Maryland. Go to their MySpace page for dates and more.

 

[Photo credit:
Dan Stack]

 

 

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