» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Anticon Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

August 8, 2005
It's morning in Yoni Wolf's world. He's just waking up from the beautiful ambient indie-hop dream that is cLOUDDEAD's Ten. Standing in front of a mirror, the image of that same "straight-faced fat kid" he's always been stares back at him in the song "500 Fingernails", off Sanddollars, the latest EP from Why?. In a flash, it all comes flooding back - the insecurities, the awkwardness in conversation, the red-faced embarrassment of puberty. Take a good, long look Yoni; not so far removed from the sixth grade, are you? Neither am I. I'm guessing most of you aren't either.

At heart, Wolf is still a kid with a wild imagination. Best known, perhaps, for his mind-blowing work with cLOUDDEAD, Wolf is back at his day job, turning out whimsical, blissed-out pop mash-ups with Why?, a group that now includes his brother Josiah on drums, guitarist Matt Meldon and multi-instrumentalist Doug McDiarmid. This is where Yoni belongs: losing himself in languid, piano-based psych-pop reveries like "500 Fingernails" and "Sick 2 Think", in which he asks the probing question, "Am I sick to think I look best under fluorescent lights?"

I'm no doctor, but that kind of attitude seems pretty healthy to me. Unconcerned with trends or pop conventions, Wolf and company eagerly disassemble genres and put the pieces back together in weird, but utterly appealing ways. What you'll notice most are the spinning colored pinwheels of piano and electric keyboards in songs like the vertiginous "500 Fingernails" and the winsome opener, "Miss Ohio's Nameless", where a much older Wolf reflects on making it in the indie underground and how his band once "made a message board's top 10."

But that's not all. There's Wolf, acting like a street magician, pulling from his mouth a knotted handkerchief line of obscure one-liners and disjointed journal-entry poetry with a deadpan delivery that sounds computer generated. Deep in the scenery are barely perceptible bass movements that carry melodies along like a babbling brook can push a child's homemade boat. The beats vary from rushing electronic drums to hypnotic handclaps to the snappy snare blows of "Mutant John", which also features Meldon's translucent guitar effluvium.

In a sense, the songs of Sanddollars are charming little mutts. Mixing breeds of folk, psychedelica and white bread hip-hop, Why? is genetically predisposed to the same experimental tendencies as Pavement, Grandaddy, Enon, the Beta Band and They Might Be Giants. Each song is a musical Frankenstein, pieced together with live parts of the bodies of all those acts. In "Next Atlanta", Why? adroitly stitches together slowly shuffling hip-hop beats and removes the shriveled heart, replacing it with echo-laden piano glow. More delicately crafted is the vaporous "Pantone Cyan", which moves upstairs into Russian Futurists-style bedroom electro-pop and invites over the horn section of the local high school marching band to share in some magic mushrooms.

Appearing overhead are the bright Northern Lights of the wistful title track; its effervescent harmonies, intermittent shouting and panoramic pastiche of rolling piano, lolling bass and fluted comet tails of guitar shoot through the sky in the distance. The marching band lies awestruck on the grass, taking it all in.

In September, Why? will release its third full-length, the heavily anticipated Elephant Eye. After listening to the Sanddollars teaser, it's hard to believe Why? has anything left.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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