Wye Oak - "Spiral"

The latest participants in Adult Swim’s Singles Program series are Baltimore indie rockers Wye Oak, who head in a different sonic direction than what you might expect, in which the duo creates an angular, riveting echo of a rock song called “Spiral.” Download below.

Here’s Jenn Wasner on the tune (via NPR):

This track was written specifically for this Adult Swim series, but they didn’t provide any thematic or sonic guidance for the song. A lot of the music I had been working on independently at the time sounded something like this — so I felt like the Adult Swim opportunity was, as a standalone track, a great opportunity to experiment with some of these new sonic and rhythmic ideas in a low-pressure context. The song revolves around the idea of repetition and rhythmic interplay — parts that are fairly minimalist and circular that come together to form an almost hypnotic wash. I wrote this song while living at the Soft House (a warehouse space in the Copycat building in Baltimore), and my roommate across the hall, Rod Hamilton, practiced marimba and vibraphone often.

As I was writing the track, it occurred to me that the marimba loops I had heard him practicing were a perfect fit — perhaps they had settled in my unconscious all along? — and we were very grateful that he was willing to contribute to this overall effect. Overall, this song is purposely catchy, but also (to me, at least) dark and menacing. It’s about going around in circles, feeling trapped by the momentum of bad decisions, being funneled into a negative feedback loop until you, like the song, eventually fall apart.

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Comments (13)
  1. well, that was a change

  2. can we confirm this is actually Wye Oak? sheesh!

  3. This sounds EXACTLY like Flock of Dimes and I LOVE IT! Jenn Wasner for president….(of my heart!)

  4. I LOVE this. This is the sound I like these days: far out, out there, up high. Or something. I found Wye Oak the best in what they used to do, but what they used to do in general wasn’t my favorite “genre”, so to speak. This one is, and they seem to be doing it right! It feels so modern to me! Can’t wait for the album!

    • I’ll bet you a million bucks that this is just a one-off.

      • I hope their new album is just like that. I played this for my husband too, and he liked it best as well. It sounds somewhere between Peaking Lights and Lower Dens, very trippy, very modern.

        • I would count Wye Oak among the handful of bands who could take their next album in any number of directions and still produce something impressive. That said, I hope they stick to being an atmospheric band with a big guitar sound. They are one of the best at it, it is nice to see a girl fronting a band of that ilk, and there really are too many bands playing subdued music with electronic elements in a rather contrived effort to be “modern,” whatever the Hell that means. Also, Lower Dens are boring as Hell. I recently went to see No Joy blaze through a typically noisy and cathartic set and was really proud of myself for being one of the few with no desire to stick around for Lower Dens.

        • By the way, I read your “The Way Forward is Without Guitars” blog post, and I must say, Kevin Shields proved over 20 years ago that “sounds that can only be done via computers/synthesizers” do not exist. Shields’s most valuable contribution to music has been giving guitar-based rock music a future only limited by one’s imagination and technical skills. Using synths as anything other than seasoning too often results in rock music that lacks dimension and punch. Even someone like Robert Smith who has used synths a lot in his career (and very tastefully, so kudos to him for that rare feat) has constructed his most enveloping and convincing soundscapes primarily through evocative guitar-playing.

  5. wow thats trippy, with some 80′s vibe in the chorus, interesting to see how far they will take this sound for the next album. i still play civilian on a regular basis, such a solid album that one…

  6. Thanks Michael.

    Oh i do agree of Lower dens being dull live. I loved their debut and their new album but live is a whole different beast altogether.

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