Fusing introspective songwriting with vivid polyrhythmic indie rock and pop, Wye Oak emerged from Baltimore's underground scene in the mid-2000s to acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.
The duo of singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack took their name from a symbolic 460-year-old tree in their home state of Maryland. Formed in 2006 under the moniker Monarch, Wasner and Stack recorded their first album in varied spots, bouncing around various Baltimore basements and apartments, eventually landing a record deal with indie heavyweight Merge. The label would go on to release the act's 2008 debut, If Children, as well as the 2009 follow-up Knot and 2010 EP My Neighbor/My Creator. By the time of their 2011 self-produced album, Civilian, which was also released by Merge, Wasner and Stack had refined their sound to a fine point and had gained a devoted following. After the record's release, the duo embarked on a lengthy tour that left them completely spent and in need of a break. Once finished with their obligations, Stack relocated to Texas and Wasner launched two new projects, the more experimental Flock of Dimes and the electronic R&B duo Dungeonesse with songwriter/producer Jon Ehrens. When the time came to get back to Wye Oak, Wasner switched from guitar to bass, feeling that they had exhausted their previous guitar-based approach. Relying more on synths and drum machines and adding in some R&B influences in place of folk, their fourth album, Shriek, was recorded at the Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes and released by Merge in April of 2014. After the album's release, Wasner stayed busy providing guest vocals on albums by Mac McCaughan, Soft Pink Truth, and Shearwater, while also readying the first Flock of Dimes album, which was issued by Partisan Records in late 2016. A few months before that, the band and Merge dug into the archives and uncovered some songs that were written and recorded between the releases of Civilian and Shriek. Titled Tween, the eight-song collection showed some behind-the-scenes footage of the band's creative shift between the two albums. A proper studio entry arrived in the spring of 2018 with The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, a bright and electrifying set that continued Wye Oak's evolution into stranger sonic territories. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi