Wye Oak, a Baltimore-based indie rock duo comprising Jenn Wasner (guitar, vocals) and Andy Stack (drums, keyboards, vocals), took their name from a symbolic 460-year-old tree in their home state of Maryland. Formed in 2006 under the moniker Monarch, Wasner and Stack recorded their first album in varied spots, bouncing around various basements and apartments, eventually landing a record deal with indie heavyweight Merge. The label would go on to release the act's 2008 debut, If Children, as well as the 2009 follow-up Knot and 2010 EP My Neighbor/My Creator. By the time of their 2011 self-produced album, Civilian, which was also released by Merge, Wasner and Stack had refined their sound to a fine point and had gained a devoted following. After the record's release, the duo embarked on a lengthy tour that left them completely spent and in need of a break. Once finished with their obligations, Stack relocated to Texas and Wasner launched two new projects, the more experimental Flock of Dimes and the electronic R&B duo Dungeonesse with songwriter/producer Jon Ehrens. When the time came to get back to Wye Oak, Wasner switched from guitar to bass, feeling that they had exhausted their previous guitar-based approach. Relying more on synths and drum machines and adding in some R&B influences in place of folk, their fourth album, Shriek, was recorded at the Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes and released by Merge in April of 2014.
James Christopher Monger