Depending on who you ask, the folk genre could get met with a “been here, done that” notion. In the world of folk music there’s certainly plenty of acts that can’t stand out no matter how hard they try. Fortunately for New York’s Olden Yolk, none of that is an issue. On their new full length Living Theatre they not only turn what you think you know about folk music on its ear, they take the genre to a new place where lush arrangements are the norm.
Opening with the sonic landscape that gets laid out on “240 D,” the duo quickly lets you know that they aren’t a typical folk band. Steering closer to the kind of folk employed by The Beatles or even The Beach Boys in their experimental years, the song resembles the craft that music used to get treated with before artists had twenty producers work on one song. There’s a magical notion in how the song opens like a blooming flower as it ticks along-a place where the drums come in and leave, being used only when warranted. This is essentially what the marker for this album is. Instead of looking for a catchy anything, the band uses instruments as tools to get their point across.
While songs like “Blue Paradigm” and “Castor & Pollux” roll out like sixties garage pop tinged folk, tracks like “Meadowlands” and “Distant Episode” take a more stark and ominous tone, showing the depths at which this band can operate at. The soft and tender gets displayed differently than you’re used to, yet it still works and pulls you closer like a lover in the dark. Standouts from the record include the upbeat and almost nineties Brit pop touches of “Cotton & Cane,” the slow and at times darkened nuances of “Violent Days” and the island tones of “Angelino High.” In ten tracks Olden Yolk not only rearranges what folk could be, they place they own mark on the genre as well.
Living Theatre is available to stream on all streaming sites, it can be purchased digitally from all online music retailers or it can be purchased physically on multiple formats directly from Trouble In Mind Records. Olden Yolk is on tour May 21 at Go Bar in Athens, GA until October 18 at YES in Manchester, UK. A complete list of their upcoming appearances can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by John Andrews.