Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Why? - "Sanddollars"

The "flow" of Yoni Wolf, better known as Why?, has always toed the line between rapping and singing. At least to me it has. If you don't agree, I urge you to go dig up his 2003 release, Oaklandazulasylum. Give a quick listen to "Woman, Eye, 'No.'" or "A Little Titanic" and you'll undoubtedly hear what I'm getting at. Heck, he even hints at his future sound: "I'm a singer in a rock and roll band / it sounds pathetic / but to tell the truth / I don't regret it."

That leads us to his new release, the Sanddollars EP, on which there's no question that Wolf has taken a definite turn towards more singing and less rapping. It's not just his vocal stylings that have changed, though. A few of the songs are more fleshed out rock songs with guitar, piano, and drums (the title track that I'm posting above being the best example). It's also quite evident that Wolf had actual melodies in mind when crafting these numbers.

Now, this may put off some fans, as there was plenty to like about Oaklandazulasylum. Why fix something if it's not broke, right? His non-linear, homemade, bedroom hip-hop poetics on that album were incredibly inventive and refreshing. I'd attest to that myself. But let's not kid ourselves, artists have to show progress and change slightly if they want to stay relevant and interesting. Besides, more than half of what made Why?'s first album so great were Wolf's quirky and super absurd lyrics. And there's no shortage of that on Sanddollars. Although they're coming out in a more "sing-songy" delivery, it's really not that far off from what it sounds like when he's rapping. It's pretty deceiving, really, how the presence of instrumentation can make him sound so different. Plus, like I stated earlier, he always strode that fence anyway.

So what's really not to like about this track? That's right. Nothing. It's a freaking good time!
Listen without any preconceived expectations routed in your love of Why?'s earlier sound (if you had any) and then enjoy the hell out of this song. And don't forget to catch him on tour, if he's coming to your town and you feel so inclined.


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