Why? Sanddollars EP

[Anticon; 2005]

Styles: lo-fi post rap-turned-lo-fi indie pop rock
Others: Reaching Quiet, Pavement, cLOUDDEAD, Hymie’s Basement

Why? has always had an inclination for lo-fi indie rock. The presence of a badly-tuned and rigidly-strummed acoustic guitar can be traced back to his early recordings. This presence became more obvious during the Reaching Quiet project, which actually required and unveiled the use of live instrumentation on the Mush tour of 2002. In 2001, Why? was peddling a cardboard-cased tour-only EP, under the band name of Miss Ohio's Nameless. This Cincinnati outfit was clumsy, amateur, and indie rock through-and-through. And of course there was the infamous phonecall made to Jimmy Breeze on the first cLOUDDEAD album, inquiring about his guitar-playing and posing abilities. Why? has been leaning towards rock for some time now. This shouldn't be too surprising, especially since he's barely fit into the rap end of things very often (save for that tounge-in-cheek, yet wildly-impressive flow on the Madtoon's Beat Orchestra project.) Hymie's Basement, the Early Whitney EP, and the limited Almost Live From Anna's Cabin were all blatant clues to his direction. Sanddollars is the culmination of all these affairs -- Why?'s attempt at indie rock stardom.

Why?'s voice is reminiscent of a Malkmus-style speak/sing/yelp approach. His pop sensibility and tunes channel a less-graphic Jeff Mangum. He doesn't conform to one singing style for the length of the album; there are flashes of new wave on "500 Fingernails" and the choruses of "Mutant John." Unapologetic specificity has always been Yoni Wolf's most commendable, pleasurable gift. His unforeseen outbursts of blunt specifics lend itself to the listener's comprehension of his sometimes-cryptic content. We're able to detect a theme in these eight, short songs, many of which run together, coalescing into the ever-increasing fact that Why? is becoming more popular everyday. His growing overseas adoration and homeland support can't be denied. Taking a step back and struggling with that always-expected "hot band" dilemma, Why? is coming to terms with his career as a musician. Judging from the quality of these eight songs, he appears to be handling it well.

1. Miss Ohio's Nameless
2. 500 Fingernails
3. Stick 2 Think
4. Sanddollars
5. Vice Principal
6. Next Atlanta
7. Pantone Cyan
8. Mutant John

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