by David Chiu

(MME writers were apparently “In Love With Massachusetts” this weekend)

Like their fellow Baltimore musical peers Beach House, up-and-comers Wye Oak is a male-female duo that delivers atmospheric slow alternative rock. Both acts are fronted by a female singer with a jazzy-inflected voice. But unlike the music of Beach House, Wye Oak’s sound is definitely more guitar and drum heavy.

A little background: the group consists of singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer Andy Stack. They released their Merge Records debut album, If Children, last year and just a few weeks ago they put out their follow-up The Knot, which is full of both electric and reflective songs ranging from the hypnotic “Milk and Honey” to the slow fury of “For a Prayer,” to the violin-tinged “I Want For Nothing.”

So if the band’s music sounds intimate and ethereal, it is a totally different animal in a live setting as was the case at their recent performance at The Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. At that show, the drums and guitars sounded much louder, thus furthering the emotional punch and urgency of their introspective songs.

Wasner’s sometimes-grungy guitar playing accentuated the music along with her wistful and whispery vocals. Stack’s drum work was equally distinctive throughout the whole show. He drummed with only his right hand as his foot provided that extra back beat; his left hand played the keyboards near his kit. Judging by their solid performance at the Middle East, Wye Oak is proof of the common adage “less is more”.

See Pasta Primavera for mp3’s of an entire live set.