Decemberists, Wye Oak | Riviera Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

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When: Fri., Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m. 2011

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WYE OAK On Wye Oak's 2009 album The Knot, the duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack suspend gorgeous country folk in a cloud of swirling psychedelia—one that honors the legacy of cosmic traditionalists like the Dead and the Incredible String Band while incorporating textural innovations picked up from early shoegazers. On the new full-length Civilian (Merge), Wye Oak retain Knot's elegant if vaguely antique sense of melancholy, but with less direct folk influence. "Hot as Day" is sweeping dream pop swaddled in reverb and fuzzed-to-death guitars that, in combination with Wasner's delicate vocals, bring to mind a slightly less diaphanous Lush. Toward the other end of the spectrum, the standout track "Holy Holy" is the most aggressive song I've heard from the band, with dissonant string bends and a lurching rhythm you could almost bang your head to. As interesting as their heavier experimentation is, though, the album's closer, "Doubt," provides convincing evidence that Wye Oak really don't need more than elusive vocals and Wasner's (mostly) uneffected guitar to get their point across. The Decemberists headline.

Miles Raymer

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