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Alternative & Indie - Released August 9, 2019 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 9, 2019 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2017 | Joyful Noise Recordings

The mysteriously titled Moh Lhean is the sixth studio album and Joyful Noise Recordings debut for style-bending indie rock project Why? It shares its unexplained name with the home studio of its main man, loquacious lyricist Yoni Wolf, who produced the album along with his brother/frequent collaborator Josiah Wolf. The first album since Why?'s debut to be wholly home-recorded, it's still rich in sound and feels typically spontaneous for Wolf, if with a weightier, more reflective tone than in the past. That's not to say Why? has lost its playfulness. The song "George Washington," for instance, follows "The Longing Is All" in the track list and opens with the line "I wrote a song called 'The Longing Is All' instead of calling you." Wolf's half-spoken melodic delivery, which can evoke They Might Be Giants at least a little, comments and contemplates amid layered production that includes sound effects and field recordings in addition to various keyboards, guitars, strings, woodwinds, and percussion. Performances were provided by the Wolf brothers and several guests, including Ryan Lott of Son Lux, who supplies "voices" to the trippy closer, "The Barely Blur." Beyond Yoni Wolf's lead vocal, "One Mississippi" unfolds with echoing female vocals, recorded conversation, finger snaps, whistling, xylophone tones, and percussion that sounds more like found objects than studio equipment. It's all wrapped up in a catchy cadence that spirals into a round of repeated vocal tracks and twinkling ambience. While there is a variety of palettes, with "Easy" being more acoustic and "The Water" more atmospheric, they all feature a level of percussive heft that makes for substantial listening. Still decidedly offbeat but not as manic as some of Why?'s prior material, Moh Lhean sounds a little more mature, but only relatively speaking. The project remains a creative burst of sounds, grooves, and stylized observation that's uniquely refreshing to those open to its quirky complexity. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 17, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 11, 2008 | Joyful Noise Recordings

Although Why? have often been considered an alternative rap group, and frontman Yoni Wolf a rapper, this is a designation based on their affiliation with avant hip-hop label anticon and the fact that Wolf will alternate his nasally, sung vocals with spoken word pieces, a designation based on the fact that the band is simply rather hard to categorize. Why? are not hip-hop, but they are also much more than indie rock or folk or whatever other genres are thrown at them, staying within those distinctions but also moving forward, looking outward, all while remaining esoterically accessible. This is especially apparent on Alopecia, the band's third full-length, which, while musically resting comfortably in the experimentally-tinged indie rock realm, explores as many other influences as it can touch without ever overextending its reach. It's all wonderfully, awkwardly tied together by Wolf's lyrics -- detailed and odd and sometimes all too humanly crude -- which find a way to be both extremely intimate and detached, simultaneously. "These Few Presidents" alludes to death, though it's probably about a break-up ("At your house the smell of our still living human bodies and oven gas"), "Simeon's Dilemma" is a warped take on a love song ("But I still hear your name in wedding bells/Will I look better or will I look the same rotting in Hell?), and "Good Friday" manages to discuss sex, the Silver Jews, loneliness, and R. Crumb, while beginning with the lines "If you grew up with white boys who only look at black and Puerto Rican porno/Because they want something their dad don't got, then you know where you're at." Wolf often approaches his words from a hip-hop standpoint, concentrating on internal rhyme and enjambment, but his intonation and delivery are pure indie rock. As is the band, who layer keyboards, guitars, and electric and organic percussion into something simultaneously melodic and distant, tuneful and difficult, songs that you want to sing along to but then have trouble enunciating the hook to "The Hollows," the first single ("This goes out to all my underdone, other-tongued lung-long frontmen/And all us Earth-growths; some planted, some pulled"). But that, in fact, is what makes Alopecia successful: it displays both crypticness and honesty, intellectualism and vulgarity in equal measure, challenging and placating its audience in the same drawn-out, undefined, nasally breath. ~ Marisa Brown
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 2, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 17, 2013 | Joyful Noise Recordings

On the heels of their 2012 full-length Mumps, Etc., the brothers Yoni and Josiah Wolf of the wordy indie act Why? hatched a complex plan for the Golden Tickets EP. They chose seven lucky winners from a pool of "super fans," folks who frequently purchased merchandise from the Why? webstore. By cyber-stalking these fans' social media pages, and in some cases even secretly calling their friends and loved ones for more accurate details, the Wolf brothers collected information about their fans' lives and wrote "theme songs" for them, unbeknownst to them until the songs were complete and being prepared for release. This outlandish concept falls somewhere between a creepy invasion of privacy and a brilliant statement on the use and misuse of the Internet, but in true Why? fashion, the songs themselves are simply great, regardless of the convoluted circumstances that gave them birth. Yoni's rubbery vocals ride electric piano riffs of hooky and rapidly changing pop tunes, sounding like a hybrid of They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh, Prince, and Brian Wilson on the brightly structured "Banana Mae." "Murmurer" grabs information from a hapless fans' OK Cupid profile and siphons it into a catchy and building tune that blends Zombies-esque keyboards and eerie marimba. The brief EP of biographical sketches is mostly pop gold, with the exception of the thankfully short faux-dub workout "Dropjaw." While not the most enjoyable listen of the bunch, you get the feeling the musical approach fits the character. Golden Tickets, while both unique and bizarre conceptually, ultimately results in more of the smart songwriting that makes Why?'s proper albums so strong. ~ Fred Thomas

Rock - Released November 10, 2017 | Naturally Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 23, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 13, 2017 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 11, 2018 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2017 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 15, 2017 | Joyful Noise Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 16, 2016 | Joyful Noise Recordings