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Why?: Eskimo Snow

Why?: Eskimo Snow

Release Date:2009

By Michael Byrne | Posted 10/7/2009

File under "music you want to hate." Why? is a Cincinnati band associated with avant-rap San Francisco label Anticon (Doseone, Sole) that's been lurking around indie music's second tier for a good part of this decade. The music is broad--lushly orchestrated, rather pretty indie-rock paired with frontman Yoni Wolf's brutally nasal rapping/singing. The part that gets people, some of them, are the lyrics. Imagine a heteronormative take on Xiu Xiu's beat down and disgusted outlook, and add in some more self-loathing and really self-conscious references to stuff white urban young people are into--fixies, say. Regrettable/conflicted sex, bathroom coke lines, or, this: "Sending sexy SMSs to my ex's new man 'cause I can."

All that's to say Why? is targeted to a pretty specific group of people; like, even in indie music, this is myopic (and kinda funny). In 2008, Why? put out Alopecia, which, for what it was and who it serves, is a balls-out masterpiece, all bitter and disaffected and full of Douglas Coupland-ish bits of wisdom. And Eskimo Snow feels like a continuation of that--or, rather, a spit-shined alternate version of it. There's no acerbic nose-rapping here--Wolf is mostly singing--and the band's followed suit with music that feels less like a live-band version of Anticon doom beats and more like the forward-thinking, dense rock of bands such as Sunset Rubdown and Menomena. Full of swirling pianos, sly bits of twang and folk, marimbas/glockenspiels, and various stuff you'd call "epic," it's good, interesting listening with hooks less barbed than candied. If it's enough to wrest it out of the, for lack of a better word, hipster ghetto, remains to be seen.

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