Wye Oak is a band that I have liked for a long time, and even though their latest album, Civilian, deserves a million glorifying posts written in its honor, this article is for the purpose of introducing two of the finest cover songs I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. The Baltimore-based duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner were asked by the A.V. Club to perform a version of “Strangers,” The Kinks classic, in 2010, and were invited back the following year to perform Danzig’s “Mother.” It was a really exciting time for me, okay?
Recordings of both covers were put out by Merge Records as a simple double-sided, two-track release in 2011, so now you can own your very own copy of the really cool songs below (honestly, they’re so good that they seem to have completely eradicated my grasp on the English language).
“Strangers (The Kinks Cover)” by Wye Oak
Wasner’s voice is absolutely perfect for this track, a gentle melody about love with the slight haunting of sadness that accompanies such an all-consuming feeling. She gifts the song with a bit more fullness than the original – it’s a bit louder, a lot less meek. Wye Oak’s version asserts itself and the emotions present therein. Forget feeling bad about having feelings. Love is one of those crazy things that has ups and downs and weird sadnesses hidden between the cracks of overwhelming joy. Wye Oak captures that perfectly.
“Mother (Danzig Cover)” by Wye Oak
I can’t really stake any claim as a diehard Danzig fan, but man-oh-man do I love The Misfits – and I love Glenn’s vocals in particular. So it’s a feat of pretty great proportions that Wye Oak has covered this song in a way that I can fully endorse. Where Danzig’s version is screaming, loud, desperate, Wye Oak’s is a slower, quieter, deeper, howling kind of anguish. The track loses its metal edge for something a little more haunting. Wye Oak creates more of a sonic landscape to surround the listener instead of hitting them over the head with crashing emotions. It’s different, but in a good way. And that’s the point of a good cover.
So now that this post is way longer than I ever intended it to be, I’ll leave you with this brief piece of advice – listen to Wye Oak. If their covers are this good, can you imagine how incredible their original material would be?Baltimore, Danzig, mother, Strangers, The Kinks, The Misfits, Wye Oak