Wye Oak: “Spiral”

Over the course of a year, KUT features 260 songs of the day from a wide range of artists, each one catching our collective ear. For the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting the best songs of the day from 2012, featuring big names, new discoveries, Studio 1A exclusives, and some tunes that might have gotten lost in the shuffle in the past twelve months.

Wye Oak is not a band that stays in place for long. Though a lot of the same elements carry over from album to album–singer Jenn Wasner’s throaty croon, her slash-and-burn guitar playing, drummer Andy Stack’s inventive rhythms–each one feels markedly different. So each release should conceivably come as no surprise in its originality, yet every time Wye Oak finds a way to transcend their own sonic past.

Such is the case with “Spiral,” a song commissioned for Singles Program, a summer song series from Cartoon Network’s late-night TV bloc Adult Swim. The Baltimore-based band was given virtually a blank canvas to work with, so Wasner decided to experiment with Wye Oak’s indie rock formula. At the time of writing, she had been living in an artists’ warehouse, and she often heard musician Rod Hamilton practicing his marimba and vibraphone across the hall. The looped sounds form the basis for “Spiral,” allowing the duo to stretch out into uncharted, dance-influenced waters.

“It’s about going around in circles, feeling trapped by the momentum of bad decisions, being funneled into a negative feedback loop until you, like the song, eventually fall apart,” Wasner told NPR. Yet that’s not the case with Wye Oak–they just keep moving forward like some sort of predatory creature.

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