WHY? – Elephant Eyelash
The first album by Why? as a full-fledged band, Elephant Eyelash is a fun and quirky blend of hip-hop and indie art-pop. The opener, “Crushed Bones”, starts things off in an infectious up-tempo fashion that holds up for the most part throughout the album. About cocaine addiction, it would appear that the album would cover some heavy-handed topics, and it does at points, but never in any way other than as if it’s a celebration of the hardships and less glamorous parts of life.
Elephant Eyelash reaches its peak on “Gemini (Birthday Song)”, with playful lyrics such as, “Then the wedding/Then the woman passed out in the driver’s seat/at the order board at White Castle./We woke her up and she went ’round to the pickup window/like she knew exactly where she was.” It’s a relentlessly funny, piano-dominated hit that really defines the overall tone of the album, and the personality of the band behind the sound. All in all, Eyelash is a joyous little piece of art that demands repeated listens, the most enticing part attempting to decipher singer Yoni Wolf’s lyrics.
For fans of: cLOUDDEAD, Josiah Wolf, Modest Mouse
Best to listen to when: You’re stuck in the drive-thru at White Castle
Avoid at all costs if: You don’t like anything “Too Weird”
WHY? is an American hip hop and indie rock band. Originally the moniker of Berkeley, California artist Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf, WHY? became a full band before their 2005 release Elephant Eyelash with Doug McDiarmid and Matt Meldon, as well as Yoni’s older brother, Josiah Wolf.
When Matt Meldon left, the band became a three-piece, with Yoni as the primary songwriter and an additional keyboardist at live concerts. In 2008, the group added bassist Austin Brown to their lineup, making them a four-piece once again. In their arrangements, WHY? leans more toward folk and indie rock, as opposed to the more hip hop styling of their label-mates. Their lyrics also tend to be very abstract, focusing more on imagery than on any particular story.
Glasvegas – GLASVEGAS
Dubbed as “the best band to come out of Scotland in 20 years”, Glasvegas hit the ground running with their self-titled debut, a gloomy account of divorce, crime, and sadness. “Flowers & Football Tops”, the album opener, tells of Kriss Donald, a Glaswegian teenager who was stabbed and burned to death in 2004 by Asian Muslims just for being white. Singer James Allan sings from the standpoint of the parent, crooning “My baby is six feet under/just another number/my daughter without her brother”. In “Geraldine”, a social worker reassures their confidence in a patient, and a man experiences the guilt and paranoia of being unfaithful in “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry”. Glasvegas is definitely one of the most emotionally-charged albums that I’ve heard in a long time, but it’s not overwhelming. Instead, it’s almost melancholic but in a reflective way.
For fans of: Morrisey, The Smiths, Jesus & Mary Chain, misery
Highlights: “Flowers & Football Tops”, “Geraldine”, “Daddy’s Gone”…well, the whole album.
Best to listen to when: You need to know that someone else besides yourself realizes the injustices of the world
Avoid at all costs if: You’re more of a romantic than a realist
Glasvegas is an alternative/shoegazing band which formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2003, the band is composed of James Allan (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rab Allan (lead guitar), Paul Donoghue (bass guitar) and Jonna Lofgren (drums). Caroline McKay (drums) left the band in March 2010 and was replaced by Lofgren later that year.
The band received universal critical acclaim for their debut album Glasvegas which was released in September 2008, reaching No. 2 in the UK Album Charts. Their debut album was also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in September 2009, a year after the release of the album.