Wye Oak Is Keeping Company With: Arthur Russell

Over the course of three surprise-filled albums, Wye Oak has artistically come of age in the public eye. Singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack mesh spellbinding folk-rock melodies with a dynamic range that shifts, in the blink of an eye, from the parlor to the garage. The Baltimore duo, whose latest album Civilian (Merge) can whisper as loud as it rocks the rafters, is on duty all week as guest editors of the MAGNET website. Read our brand new Q&A with Wasner.

Jenn: I have been on quite an Arthur Russell kick for the past year or so. It didn’t happen until I started to listen to his music on headphones, at which point I was overcome with the need to listen to at least one of his songs at least once a day. The most extraordinary thing about his music, for me, is that I can think while I listen to it. Most of the time, the music I listen to demands my full attention, and it serves as a wonderful and necessary distraction. But when I listen to a record like World Of Echo or First Thought Best Thought, it’s different. It’s not that I’m shutting it out or not paying attention; it’s that, for some reason, there seems to be space for my own thoughts inside of this music. Maybe it’s because it seems so fluid and adaptable, capable of sounding ecstatically joyful when you are joyful and achingly sad when you are sad. For example, last night I listened to the song “Love Is Overtaking Me,” and it made me cry. I listened to the same song today, and it sounded like the happiest music I had ever heard, but maybe that’s just because I’m currently on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic, and I’m really fucking happy to be on this plane.

Video after the jump.