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Elephant Eyelash

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 4, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

There were some glimmers of articulate clarity and likably wry charm amid the mumblings and meanderings of Why?'s first full-length, Oaklandazulasylum, but they hardly anticipated the dramatic leap forward into approachability that marked their second. ("Their" because, between the two albums, Why? had mutated from an arty quasi-rap solo project alias to a full-fledged if hardly conventional indie rock band) Though still far from easily digestible, the challenges Elephant Eyelash presents aren't so much about trying to piece together a head-scratchingly oblique, willfully incomplete puzzle as simply taking the time to process and integrate its veritable flood of musical and, especially, lyrical content, an outpouring suggestive of a long-withdrawn, self-absorbed introvert who's suddenly become desperate to communicate with the world. What gets communicated -- in essence, the manifold nooks and crannies of Yoni Wolf's psyche -- is by turns playful, philosophical, insecure, morbid, and sentimental, and while that communication is still happening on Wolf's own terms -- which means reams of voluble verbiage peppered with nerdy absurdities, cleverly convoluted wordplay, and free-associative filigree, usually delivered in a nasal, over-articulated singsong that was really his only viable remaining link to hip-hop (and a pretty tenuous one at that) -- the upshot is a singularly striking set of images and insights well worth the scrutiny. Somewhere between intimate journal entries and free-form poetry, these songs float from factual, anecdotal snapshots -- like a vivid depiction (in the opening verse of "Sand Dollars") of watching a water-based graffito dissolve in the rain, or the casual specificity of "Yo Yo Bye Bye"'s scene-setting opening lines: "I was walking through San Antonio before soundcheck/looking for some pole to do pull-ups on" -- to probing meditations on aging and mortality (brooding closers "Act Five" and "Light Leaves"), inscrutable phantasmagoric whimsy ("The Hoofs"), and coded but no-less-heartfelt ruminations on love, loss, memory, and the alarming intensity of human connection (perhaps most affectingly on the wonderfully imagistic "Gemini (Birthday Song)." The subject matter can get fairly weighty, sure, but it's tempered by Wolf's deft balance of wit and sincerity, and by the delicately skewed indie pop backing of his bandmates. Indeed, Elephant Eyelash's music is nearly as remarkable and distinctive as its words; wispy, crunchy, structurally off-kilter compositions that are difficult to classify but favor a certain ramshackle charm and melodic sweetness, and in a few cases -- among them "Rubber Traits," "Gemini," and especially "Sanddollars" -- wind up feeling oddly, downright anthemic. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 4, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anticon
  • ASIN: B000AP04GA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,461 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on October 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
welp, looks like i'm the first to review the new Why? album.

these days i don't really like the whole critiqueing thing and whathaveyou. but i will say that this disc could be worth your time.

when i first heard why? was in the old days of Greenthink(with dose one), and a tape he put out, the name of which i can't recall. i do remember that i liked what he was doing, but got the feeling that maybe he wasn't fully realized yet. his style was a hodge-podge of universal themes and surrealistic impressions all delivered in a very tungue-in-cheek manner.

very cool, pretty darn original, but not mind-blowing.

then came his track on a compilation called ropeladder12(i apologize to all the old-school anticon fans for going over all this stuff, just trying to put together a full picture). on it he and oddnosdam made a mini-epic that was imho, the highlight of a compilation of above average songs. and of course, where most people were first introduced to this hiphop anomaly was through the clouddead album(or albums, depending on whether you bought the cd or the 10"s). dose one as usual stole the show, but why? really had by this point refined his quirky delivery.

okay, almost there! then there was 'reaching quiet'. at the time i didn't care for it, though it would grow on me. for the most part, it was snippets of unrealized songs, embrionic versions of what was to come.

there's another album in there somewhere that i never heard...

and some good eps.

okay! so! with oaklandazulasylum he decided to get a band together. smart move. all through his career he was thrown in with hiphop but always pushed the boundaries with his distinct harmonies and unusual approach to lyrics. with this new band why?
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Format: Audio CD
You missed it! I've just checked out
your `Best of 2005 in Music' list and
you didn't even include Why?'s Elephant
Eyelash let alone place it at No.1 where
it belongs.

This is to rock music in 2005
what The Beach Boys Pet Sounds was in
1966. As a Limey I say - why can't
British groups do it? Be inventive/creative?
while still being commercial? The Beatles
did it (progressed) - who does it now?

The American group Why? can.
This album starts with a rap track, but
with a twist and a mite more melody than
most rap songs, though not lacking in any
gritty street cred. It digs with the best
of them. But then it opens out into a malange
of sounds and lyrics that may remind you of
Talking Heads, and Brian Wilson, but most
of all of The Mothers of Invention
circa 'We're Only in it for The Money'.

But we're not back in 1967, in case
you're thinking 'retro'. This is more cutting
edge 2005/6 than Madonna or Beck or eminem
- in fact it's the sound of Rock'n'roll Future!
I first heard this Why? disc played on the new
music BBC Radio 3 programme Mixing It (give the
guys credit). Where the Frank Zappa'ish 'Fall
Saddles' track - with it's weird sounds and
changes - just blew me away.

The Mixing It guys compaired it to
'up market' Pavement. If these comparisons
don't whet your appitite for a listen -
- you'll be missing out...
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Format: Audio CD
The Anticon crew have never been ones to create hip-hop according to what is expected of the genre, and Why? is no different. In fact, one could argue that on his past couple releases he's very nearly created an entirely new genre that is grounded in indie rock, but dips into hip-hop and several other genres for something that's refreshing and unique (but maybe a bit frustrating for fans of one genre or the other without an open mind to accept the other). Elephant Eyelash is no different, with Why? pulling together all his previous influences into something even more focused and cohesive.

The release follows up closely on the Sanddollars EP, which came out only a couple months back, but is leaps and bounds beyond that effort in most respects. Yes, the almost nonsensical, stream-of-consciousness lyrics are still there, but the sense of songwriting, melody, and even depth of instrumentation has been expanded upon. "Crushed Bones" opens the release with lyrics that seem to touch on past drug abuse, and the song lopes along with skittery programmed beats and some dense layers of guitars while "Yo Yo Bye Bye" opens with pretty ambience and piano melodies with almost slurring vocals before chugging into almost bombastic refrains that drive home the odd (and often clever) lyrics even more.

Tracks just keep on throwing out interesting bits after that, with "Rubber Traits" dropping some of the weirdest lyrics of the album alongside some chopped-up indie guitar instrumentation while "The Hoofs" drops glittery chimes and squiggling electronics alongside acoustic guitars and the nasally vocals of Yoni Wolf (one of four members of Why?).
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