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WHY? announces new LP, Mumps, etc. due this October

By July 31, 2012No Comments

Plus, extended Summer / Fall tour dates announced

VIDEO: Mumps, etc. album cover shoot

MP3: “Sod in the Seed”

WHY? returns with their first new releases since 2009, the six track Sod in the Seed EP out August 14 in North America on Anticon / Aug. 13 in Europe on City Slang and a new LP Mumps, Etc. to follow later this Fall. The trio heads out on a national tour with Anticon labelmates Serengeti, Doseone, Jel, Sodapop, and others. Listen to the title track from the EP now.

More about Mumps, Etc:

Nipping at the ragged heels of their eagerly devoured Sod in the Seed EP, WHY? at last unleash their fifth long-player, a meticulous work of morbid fascination and offbeat romanticism dubbed Mumps, etc. Though there is a mysterious sickness (perhaps of the mind) that lurks about these thirteen songs, one might also imagine the title as describing the musically swole state of these three Midwestern men as they bring their sound into glisteningly buff focus. Yoni Wolf, brother Josiah and Doug McDiarmid are in the pocket, the unbreakable rock core at the center of a spinning ball of sonic kaleidoscopie. And all the things we love about them are still true: the grinning sun-warped choruses, that jangly Western lope, those confessionals cut with wry wit and crude details, set dancing down the odd knots of complex poetic daisy chains. It’s just that … well, all of it sounds better than ever this time around.

Part of that is due to how Mumps, etc. was made. Far from their native Cincinnati, the fellas spent a month and a half in the Denton, Texas, studio of Centro-Matic’s Matt Pence. They showed up with a pile of demos suspected to be nearly done-some five years in the making-but their aspirations evolved in the shadow of the great University of North Texas music school. Reaching out to a professor therein, they wrangled an ace crew of green-and-white gunslingers to exact their wild schemes: a string quartet, an eight-person choir, woodwinds, horns. The whole set was recorded to two-inch tape (no loops), produced by the Wolf brothers, and mixed in Atlanta by Graham Marsh (Cee Lo Green, Katy Perry) with Yoni. Thus every song pops exactly as it should, smearing genre with pointed intent until the end result became an articulated work of unusual artistry and catchiness-a WHY? record, naturally.

We’re not here to tell you what to like; the highlights are many. There’s the opener “Jonathan’s Hope,” rattling forth over a pile of cooing ladies and crunching percussion, its measured optimism leveled at the songs that follow. There’s “Waterlines,” which folds idyllic harps figures into a darkly shimmering beat while Yoni drops backwards brags-“Rocking soccer socks with sandals like, ‘Yeah, bro.'”-and dissects his public persona. “White English” bounces over some kind of mutant mariachi dub, a continuation of the coiled grooves WHY? devised for Serengeti’s Family & Friends (2011). “Thirst” bends Mumps’ spare chamber-pop into a desert-worthy drawl, bullwhips cracking and spurs jingling under a tale about black cowboys and failing faith. And “Kevin’s Cancer”-written for an afflicted fan-hits upon a moment of WHY?-style clarity: “I know with no uncertainty, that I’m uncertain and I don’t know.”

Still, we are fairly certain that “Paper Hearts” is something extra special. Offering but a single two-and-a-half minute verse, the song is gorgeously detailed and surprisingly uncoded, unspooling as it goes a gut-wrenching end to an important relationship, and shining harsh light on a narrator who often likes to hide his truths in acts of on-album villainy. (“Bitter Thoughts,” featuring Liz Wolf, being a perfect example.) So when Mumps, etc. ends one track later, with Yoni promising providence over his own death while pizzicato strings brighten the closing corners, we understand both the sad futility and the unabashed hope wrapped up in that statement. And, along with the taut arrangements and imaginative musicianship, it’s that skewed but forever winking eye on the human condition that keeps us wrapped up in WHY?

Tour Dates

08/24 Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
08/25 Norman, OK – Opolis
08/26 Santa Fe, NM- SOL at Santa Fe Brewing
08/27 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
08/28 Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex
08/30 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
08/31 Arcata, CA – Arcata Playhouse
09/01 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
09/02 Seattle, WA – Bumbershoot Festival
09/03 Boise, ID – Reef
09/04 Salt Lake City, UT – In the Venue
09/05 Englewood, CO – The Gothic
09/06 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room
09/07 Lawrence, KS – The Granada
09/08 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
09/09 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
09/10 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
09/11 Ithaca, NY – The Haunt
09/12 Cambridge, MA – Middle East
09/13 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
09/14 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
09/15 Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
09/16 Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle
09/17 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09/18 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
10/18 Cincinnati, OH – Lois & Richard Rosethal Center for Contemporary Art Black Box Theatre
10/20 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar
10/24 Richmond, VA – Canal Club
10/25 Athens, GA – 40 Watt
10/26 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits
10/27 Orlando, FL – The Social
10/28 Tampa, FL – Crowbar
10/29 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder
10/30 Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box
10/31 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
11/01 Houston, TX – Walter’s
11/02 Dallas, TX – Sons of Hermann Hall
11/03 Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/05 St. Louis, MO – Luminary Arts

Sod in the Seed EP
(Anticon / City Slang)
Street Date: August 14 (US) / August 13 (Europe)

1. Sod In The Seed
2. For Someone
3. The Plan
4. Probably Cause
5. Twenty Seven
6. Shag Carpet

Mumps, etc.
(Anticon / City Slang)
Street Date: Oct. 9 (US) / Oct. 8 (Europe)

Jonathan’s Hope
Thirteen on High
White English
Sod in the Seed
Kevin’s Cancer
Bitter Thoughts
Paper Hearts
As a Card

Links: Official Site//Twitter//Facebook