Wye Oak | Civilian

Merge (2011)
By RYAN STEWART  |  March 31, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Wye Oak main

Very quietly, Wye Oak have put together an impressive run. Not musically quiet, of course — their specialty is massive guitarscapes that seem an impossibility from just a duo. But they've been doing great work while we've all been looking in the other direction. Here, they take it to new heights: they're both feistier and more confident than they were on their fine 2009 release, The Knot, and yet they still write strong melodies. Jenn Wasner's shredding is formidable, and her voice, something of a vaguely angry coo, is reminiscent of such 1990s favorites as Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Gates of the Spinanes. The pair (Andy Stack is the other half, on drums and miscellany) wring the tension from the slower, quieter moments of their songs, as on the Sonic Youth–y "Dog Eyes," and they can still create a disorienting squall, as on the title track. And "Holy Holy" just slays, from the opening sour notes to the lovely harmonies on the final chorus. Here's one of the few first-quarter releases of 2011 that people will still be listening to in 2012.

WYE OAKCALLERS + JAGGERY | Middle East, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | April 12 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $12 | 617.864.3278.

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