Wye Oak

Casbah presents

Sold Out: Wye Oak

Madeline Kenney

Friday, July 20, 2018

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:30 pm

Soda Bar

$18 / $20

This event is 21 and over

Wye Oak
Wye Oak
The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs-the triumphant fifth album by Wye Oak-begins with an explosion. For a few seconds, piano, drums, and a playful keyboard loop gather momentum; then, all at once, they burst, enormous bass flooding the elastic beat. "Suffering, I remember suffering," sings Jenn Wasner, her voice stretched coolly across the tizzy. "Feeling heat and then the lack of it/But not so much what the difference is." The moment declares the second coming of Wye Oak, a band that spent more than a decade preparing to write this record-its most gripping and powerful set of songs to date, built with melodies, movement, and emotions that transcend even the best of their catalogue.

Louder is the third record that Wasner and Andy Stack, who launched Wye Oak in Baltimore, have made while living in separate cities-she in Durham, North Carolina, he in Marfa, Texas. They flew to one another for a week or so at a time, hunkering in home studios to sort through and combine their separate song sketches. These shorter stints together produced less second-guessing and hesitation in their process, yielding an unabashed and unapologetic Wye Oak. They discarded past rules about using just guitar or keyboard to write a record, instead funneling all those experiences and experiments into perfectly unified statements. The result is the biggest, broadest, boldest music they've ever made. The title track is a coil of anxiety and exuberance, its verses and chorus sweeping into cascades of magnetic harmony. By the time the song ends, it feels like a real pop anthem, a spell to be shouted against the ills of our world.

Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each of its dozen tracks diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song's subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked. The rapturous "Lifer," for instance, ponders perseverance and survival in times of profound struggle. It is, at first, hesitant and ponderous, Wasner wrestling with her own choices. But her ecstatic guitar solo leads into a chorus that feels like a triumph over doubt, or at least a reconciliation with it. "Over and Over" finds Wasner alone at home, watching clips of violence abroad on repeat, her outrage outstripped only by her ineffectiveness. Stack's colossal circular rhythm and Wasner's corroded harmonies conjure a digital hall of mirrors, a place where we can see all evil but do nothing. During the intoxicating "It Was Not Natural," a tired walk through the woods unearths a discarded antler, a talisman that provokes deep questions about our work lives, social codes, and romantic mores. The music-a sophisticated tessellation of pounded piano and loping bass, scattered drums and chirping synthesizer-is as complex and ponderous as the issues themselves. "It Was Not Natural" is Wye Oak at their most sophisticated, navigating life's difficulties with the nuance and power they demand.

For all the struggles Wye Oak confronts here, Louder ultimately reflects a hopeful radiance, with the parting sense that human connection and our own internal resolve can outweigh even our heaviest worries. The final two tracks are tandem testaments to weakness bowing to strength. Wasner first shuffles through her day during "Join," beset by worry until she finds a way out. "I just want a clear head," she realizes at the end, "the sun on my shoulder." And during "I Know It's Real," over twinkling guitars and a drum beat that feels like a steadying pulse, she stumbles upon a necessary credo: "Still, I'm alive, stronger than energies riding on my back."

The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs arrives at a time of immense doubt, when our personal problems are infinitely compounded by a world that seems in existential peril. But these dozen songs answer the challenge by radiating self-reflection and resolve, wielding hooks and musical intricacy as a shield against the madness of the moment. The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs is a powerful reminder to keep calling, to keep trying, no matter the peril it poses. Merge Records will release The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs TK TK, 2018.
Madeline Kenney
Madeline Kenney
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, the nature of the region is important to songwriter Madeline Kenney. A soil-tethered root to the natural world is subtly noticeable in Kenney’s art. Bare feet, fresh fruit, the brilliant moon. Despite her affinity for the green leaves and the black grass, Kenney has lived rather nomadically, transferring her being and belongings for long stays in the mountains of British Columbia, the islands of Hawaii, and around the globe. She moved to the Bay Area in 2013 to pursue a career in baking.

In Oakland, a supportive arts community inspired great growth as a musician. A chance encounter with Company Records label head Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) led to them recording the Signals EP together, along with Kenney’s brand-new album, set to come out in fall 2017. Kenney’s huge voice delivers emotional brushstrokes and unexpected lyrical knots.
Venue Information:
Soda Bar
3615 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA, 92104
http://www.sodabarmusic.com/