Listen Up: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Why?

Sanddollars
(Anticon Records)

By Billy Walters

Why? is a frustrating band, and it has nothing to do with their folk-pop-meets-carnival-on-acid sound. With not much more than percussion, piano melodies, keyb’s, wavy bass lines, and the occasional chirping bird, Why? creates a soft landing pad for the in-jokes that are dropped hard throughout Sanddollars, their first e.p.
Anybody who’s spent any amount of time with a group of musicians knows that, like twins, they often have their own language and quirks that confuse and irk everyone else. Sometimes this zaniness can be translated to the public — as with They Might Be Giants, the band that has obviously influenced Why? — but not often. Mostly, the obscure self-referencing lands flat.
Take “Mutant John.” Frontman Yoni Wolf asks “Mr. Mutant” to “join at hotmail.com” and drop him “a line,” because he has “been diggin’ those Danielson Famile records you got for me.” And during the dark piano melody and deep drum accents of “Next Atlanta,” we’re told, “Adam found a dead butterfly fully intact and put it on my keyboard at sound check.” Umm ... OK.
When Wolf isn’t leaving us out of the joke, he’s letting us know in his nasally monotone that he’s “the same straight-faced fat kid ... giving you the evil eye” or that he’ll “only be famous in the underground.” Instead of trying to seek retribution for unnamed wounds through cult celebrity, Wolf should have taken a cue from TMBG and learned how to write songs.


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