(Photo Credit: Katy Haggis)

Wye Oak’s latest album, Civilian, was hands down one of the best records of 2011. Needless to say, we were very excited to see the Baltimore duo bring their live show to The Troubadour recently in Los Angeles. One word sums up the entire night: Heavy.  Wow, can lead singer Jenn Wasner shred a stage with her guitar. This woman just rips while her vocals play between a low rasp and a straight up wail. Pair this with the drive and melody of drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack and you have one of the best live shows witnessed in years. 

Their greatest gift as a band is that of sound play.  Take “Plains”,  for example, which pulsed a steady guitar and monotone, almost melancholic vocal for a good two minutes. Then out of nowhere, a three second sonic burst knocks you in the face like, “what the fuck was that?” It’s brilliant. And heavy. Much like the title track, “Civilian” where both Jenn and Andy just unleashed. We’re not sure what this band had ruling inside of them during this song, but whatever it is, we want it. “We Were Wealth” was a another standout. This song showcased the band’s more delicate side with textured guitar sounds reminiscent of The Verve’s “Already There”, before creating a thirty foot harmonic tidal wave to close out the set.

Wye Oak is ten times better live than on record. And their record is amazing. Better said, if their record is a ten, their live show is a twelve and not to be missed when they come to your city.

Wye Oak’s latest album Civilian is out now on Merge Records.

— Elizabeth Baudouin
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