It’s always fun exploring new artists because it creates a kind of personal connection with the music when you take the time to uncover it on your own. We all have different ways of smoking out new music. For some of us, we have those few friends who are constantly updating us on new music. For others, we’re exploring live music scenes and for some, it’s as easy as Bandsintown recommending artists based on our Spotify activity. It was the latter that helped me discover the American band WHY?.
WHY? was brought together in Berkeley, California, by Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf when he recruited his brother Josiah as well as Doug McDiarmid back in 2004. A few artists have come and gone, but the core trio has remained throughout and make up the current band.
The first time I heard WHY? was only a few weeks back when scrolling through the Bandsintown app on my phone and seeing that they were scheduled to play on April 17th at Lee’s Palace – one of my favourite venues. The app recommended WHY? based on my interest in the Montreal indie group Islands. I thought I’d give them a listen. When I checked them out on Spotify, I discovered their new album Moh Lhean had just been released on March 3rd. I threw on my earphones, hit play and found myself infatuated with their sound.
Since Moh Lhean’s release, it has been receiving outstanding critical acclaim. It’s an indie rock album so I thought it safe to assume that WHY? had always been an indie rock band. However, as I started down WHY?’s musical timeline I quickly found aspects of hip-hop in many of their tunes. In fact, some of their earlier stuff was predominantly hip-hop with subtle aspects of indie rock. Yoni initially used the WHY? moniker during his solo career as a hip-hop artist before the band formed and took over the name.
WHY?’s first album, Elephant Eyelash, features a pretty good mix of indie rock and indie hip-hop. But if you’re interested in checking out WHY? at the top of their hip-hop game, I suggest delving into their album Mumps, etc. The opening track, Jonathan’s Hope, provides beautiful flowing hip-hop verses complemented nicely with melodic choruses. This same recipe is repeated throughout the album and provides a tasteful music listening experience.
To date, WHY? has five studio albums, each of which bring something new to the forefront. They also have four EPs and three demo albums so there’s no shortage of music to listen to from this group. I highly suggest you check out Moh Lhean as a primer for getting into the band, then make your way down the list of albums if you like what you hear. WHY? has a busy summer ahead of them with a staggering number of shows scheduled. WHY? stops in Toronto on April 17th to play Lee’s Palace, you all know where I’ll be that day.