WHY? – Eskimo Snow Review & Editorial

WHY? – Eskimo Snow Album Review & Editorial

By Bryce Carr


Isn’t odd that as listeners of music, we expect a band’s “sound” to stay consistant from album to album? We seem to lock them in to what we know, assigning an aural fingerprint if you will, of a sound that speaks to us and makes us feel a certain way. It’s almost selfish of us to forbid them from changing and growing as a group. Listeners desire that new music be the same; to still evoke memories of some high school makeout, or period of insecurity that in turn makes us feel better about ourselves. We reminesce is the old times (Even to this day, I occasionally catch myself thinking about how much I miss the pre-Cassadaga Bright Eyes or Brand New’s Deja Entendu) and long for how things used to be.

When I first heard reports that on Berkeley-based band WHY?’s new album there would be changes to the band’s sound, I was a bit hesitant. I’ve listened to the band since their 2005 album Elephant Eyelash and supported the few changes noticed up until 2008’s Alopecia. The band really grew to be more radio friendly during this time and Alopecia’s single, “The Hollows” was placed on rotation on our local radio station FM 94.9.

I remember my first time listening to the band and sitting down, trying to identify the sounds hidden behind a seemingly minimalistic sound.  Yet this minimalistic lo-fi sound was actually rich with variety. Layers weave instrument and vocal tracks together, creating a rich presence to the music. Perhaps most notable, was the urban hip-hop based vocal delivery planted on top of a folked-out indie sound; combining two elements, which in their natural state, should not cohabitate the same musical space but somehow connect like something beautiful, split at creation.

The most recent release from this band, the ten-track Eskimo Snow, was recorded with more room mics on the drums- producing a noticeably more live and full sound. The songs also seem to have a considerably more traditional flow than the songs on earlier albums. Lead vocalist Yoni Wolf also strayed considerably away his traditional vocal delivery. The hip-hop delivery is still evident, just confined to specific songs or specific sections of songs (and completely absent from the unofficial single off the album, January Twenty Something).

Although the sound of the band has changed with this new album, WHY? still is the same band. The music has a slightly different feel but is still just as descriptive and charactistically “WHY?” as albums before. The beauty is still there, hidden in simplicity and layers proverbial excellence.

If you’ve never listened to this band before, I encourage you to hit the play button below. I can’t guarantee it to become your new favorite song, but I can guarantee that you’ll find the song to be unique and different from most of the other things that you’ll listen to today.