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Alopecia

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 11, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Why? the band-Yoni Wolf, Josiah Wolf, Doug McDiarmid-continues their calculated blitzkrieg on the self-made Jangle-Rap, Indie Pop'n'Roll genre, but the stakes are raised. The boys returned to their Midwest roots for Alopecia, hunkering down in Minneapolis's Third Ear studio and inducting a pair of venerable big guns into the band: Fog mastermind Andrew Broder and bassist Mark "Bear" Erickson. Throwing their samplers to the wind, Why? recorded live as a five-piece. By the time the core trio returned to Oakland (where Thee More Shallows' D. Kessler engineered a final session), they had amassed their most immediate and cohesive batch of songs to date. 14 tracks. 2008.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Vowels Pt.2
  2. Good Friday
  3. These Few Presidents
  4. The Hollows
  5. Song Of The Sad Assassin
  6. Gnashville
  7. Fatalist Palmistry
  8. The Fall Of Mr.Fifths
  9. Brook & Waxing
  10. A Sky For Shoeing Horsesunder
  11. Twenty-Eight
  12. Simeon's Dilemma
  13. By Torpedo or Crohn's
  14. Exgesis


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 11, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anticon
  • ASIN: B0011V7OQ0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,109 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin Satterwhite on May 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
It's amazing how much Anticon as a group of artists and label have grown. I remember being a fan of Yoni Wolf many years ago when he was more of an impact behind the scenes rather than center stage. Back when he was the sole individual under the moniker Why?, Dose One was way too eccentric, and Sole was the stud of Anticon.

For those completely unfamiliar with Anticon, Yoni or Why?. Anticon is an indepedent label in which Yoni Wolf started with others and still maintains today. Why? is an experimental electronic band (they're not hip hop), which of course is on the Anticon label. The base of their music is electronics and they experiment with vocals, lyrics, timing, and rhythms. Usually, it's quite serendipitous. I'm all about allowing artists the freedom to experiment how they desire, it's the greatest element of Indie music.

Why? still represents Yoni Wolf but not solely. Why? is now a three piece act, which includes Yoni's brother, Josiah Wolf, and friend, Doug McDiarmid. With the addition of these band mates, Why? is showing it's diversity and maturation.

Three years ago, "Elephant Eyelash" was their first collective release and is still amazing. "Alopecia" (which is a medical term for baldness) is definitely a positive leap forward for the band. This release is by far more cohesive, accessible, catchy, melodic, constant, you name it. It's better. Some of Why?s best songs are featured here. I can even go as far to say that Why? have finally outdone Subtle this year. Subtle of course being a surprisingly popular experimental band by Dose One (Yoni's partner in cLOUDEAD and an original Anticon member). While neither are in competition of each other, it's very noteworthy as Dose One has been a beneficiary of boost in fame these past few years.
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Format: Audio CD
Yoni Wolf aka Why? mastermind, once a force in the juggernaut "hip-hop" outfit cLOUDDEAD (someone once said "they are to hip-hop as Nirvana is to, say, the blues"), returns with more of the same obtuse songwriting he has displayed since he began. He can create interest out of nothing, offering commentary on the minutia of everything from kitchen towels to white-boy auto-erotic literature ("only look at black and Puerto-Rican porno/'cuz they want something that their dad don't got") to sleeping positions, all subjects he flits between in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. Together with Andrew Broder and Austin Brown, Wolf complements his words with a mélange of hip-hop, new wave and twang, the trio capably realizing all sorts of mix-and-match experiments. After dozens of solo and group releases, Why? still manages to work a niche that thrives on ambiguity, forged ingenuity and unassuming trinkets, their own genre that only they know how to work.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
For any excellent genre-blending/breaking music, it may be cliché and not particularly descriptive to say this, but I'll say it anyway because I mean it: Why? make music that sounds unlike anything else I have ever heard. And it is brilliant. It is complex, inventive, exciting, eminently tight, catchy, and thought-provoking. This is one of my favorite records by any artist. A friend burned this cd for me a few years ago, and I decided it was finally time to pay for it and get my own higher quality copy. Listen, enjoy, and make a point to get out and see them live, too. It's all worth your money.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Why? really out-did themselves with this album's great, sometimes darkly humorous lyrics and catchy beats.
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Format: Audio CD
Why? are certainly not mainstream. Bizarre cover art, and weird cryptic lyrics set to rap mixed with indie rock? That won't be getting played on the radio. But it's a fresh sound that doesn't get boring after repeated listens, full of interesting lyrics and melodies that keep you interested. It all sounds very personal.

I can tell you that you will get more value out of this one record than anything the mainstream artists will squeeze out this year.

Also, find Boards of Canada's remix of "Good Friday" if you can. It's just amazing.
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Format: Vinyl
I didn't like this album that much at first. It was the first time I'd ever heard Why? What I have found, however, is that sometimes my favorite albums are one's I don't immediately love. I tend to get bored with albums I immediately love. So I kept listening and now it is one of my favorites of all time. In my book, same quality as The Glow pt. 2 by the Microphones, Black Eyes self titled, or Liars They were wrong so we drowned. You should probably own this one.
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This is the modern day equivalent of Paul Simon's first album. The lyrics put the whole world's skeletons on display in the most subtle and intimate way imaginable. Not only that, but Wolf & co seem to have Paul Simon's uncanny knack for weaving strong beats with layers of harmonized vocals and acoustic guitar. Truly a magnificent example of the best songwriting 2008 has to offer, thus far.
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Format: Audio CD
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Clear sound. Good original tunes with unpredictable inventive changes. Sharp lyrics. Sometimes ambient, sometimes street. What more could you ask?

Why? slow rap down, (so you can hear the words), and give it a melodisity which makes it more accessible to the white listener. The lyric style (invented by REM) is obscure but intriguing. Sometimes they're telling a personal story which touches off resonances in your own experience, but only obliquely. I don't know how they do it but the words work a magic. Why?'s sound and lyrics have, now, overtaken REM. What they lack is REM's driving rhythm and that's what's keeping them out of the mainstream, but maybe that's not worrying them and they'd rather stay true to their aim.

There's a swagger to the rap of Why? that I like. Lead singer Yoni Wolf's boy-next-door-but-hip voice explores adolescence like it was yesterday (which for him it was). They melt rap, hip-hop and boy-band pop into a wide awake, just graduated from high-school, atmosphere, playing on their youth and sexuality and not realising that they're not quite making it in the adult world - yet.

So the simplistic skeleton of sound which greets your ears on the first listening fills out with repeated listening to become almost a symphony and you notice female choruses, and melody lines. If you asked me what any of the songs were about I couldn't tell you, and yet I get strong images from all of them. At times it's the sophisticated sound of ultra-modernity, yet there's always that human touch to it.

Or to put it another way:

Like appreciation of all great rock. The first time you hear it it's like a jigsaw puzzle, but with only twenty or so pieces giving an incomplete picture.
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