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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 163 - 12/31/09

Eskimo Snow

Since the first time I heard Why? (I dropped in via 2nd album Elephant Eyelash) I've been a fan. Even though their last record, Alopecia, wasn't as good as the former, it still was a fine platter, making Why? someone to follow without asking myself 'why?'.

Therefore it's quite exciting to check on their fourth platter, Eskimo Snow, released some moonths ago. They're still a indie-pop/hip-hop outfit, but there's less of the hip-hop, and more of the pop this time around. Yoni Wolf described it (to Pitchfork) as "...a bit more wild, and the drums have more room mics. They're more open. The sound is more open, more live...". Very true. The sound is very 'roomy', with a great drum sound. Jonathan 'Yoni' Wolf is the mastermind of Why?, accompanied by brother Josiah Wolf, Doug McDiarmid, Andrew Broder, and Mark Erickson. With some contributing guests, including Mark Nevers (of Lambchop), who's been doing some of the mixing as well. Yoni has also said this is "...the least hip-hop out of anything I've ever been involved with.. ..I don't want to say a typical verse-chorus structure, but they're song-songs". I find Eskimo Snow both good and not so good. It has some ups, and it has some weaker moments. "Against Me" is grand! It's an elegant, epic pop-song, and the best song of the album. Along with the punchy "Into the Shadow of My Embrace", and "This Blackest Purse". And, like always: Yoni's quite some storyteller.

Parts of Why?'s music (not the vocals, though) are slightly reminiscent to some of Sufjan Stevens' and Andrew Bird's music [there's even a link here: Jeremy Ylvisaker, who's contributing to this album, played on Bird's Noble Beast]. Partly. Colin Macintyre (a.k.a. Mull Historical Society) is another related named, as is (partly) Brian Wilson's golden oldie Beach Boy songs. Nevertheless, Eskimo Snow isn't as good as I was hoping for. Am I too picky? The album's sounding great, though.

One final curious question regarding the title, Eskimo Snow: any connection to Zappa's "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow"? Watch out where the huskies go...

Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Why? articles/reviews: Alopecia, Elephant Eyelash, Mumps, Etc., Sanddollars EP.

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