WHY?

Manic Presents:

WHY?

Open Mike Eagle, Ceschi & Anonymous Inc

Tue, February 6, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Space Ballroom.

Hamden, CT

$16.00

This event is all ages

WHY?
WHY?
The final words sung on the sixth album by WHY? are an apt place to begin: "Hold on, what's going on?" Because while there's much familiar about the oddly named Moh Lhean—mastermind Yoni Wolf's sour-sweet croon, his deadpan poet's drawl and ear for stunningly fluid psych-pop-folk-whatever arrangement—a great deal has changed in the four years that've passed since 2012's Mumps, Etc., an LP that honed the band's orchestral precision and self-deprecating swagger to a fine point. It's significant that this is the first fully home-recorded WHY? album since the project's 2003 debut. Made mostly in Wolf's studio and co-produced by his brother Josiah, the result is obsessive, of course, but also intimate, and flush with warmth and looseness. But the biggest transformation is a bit subtler. After years of eying his world, in part, with a cynical squint, Wolf here learns a new mode. While Moh Lhean never stoops to outright optimism, it chronicles our hero finding peace in the unknowing, trading the wry smirk for a holy shrug, and looking past corporeal pain for something more cosmic and, rest assured, equally weird.

A low tone opens the album on "This Ole King" as acoustic pluck and upright bass form a Western bedrock beneath Wolf's fragile voice. But as the song pushes on, the playing gets brighter and the vocal becomes a mantra-like hum inspired by Ali Farka Touré's blues, before rolling into a second part rich with chiming keys and twisting harmony—Brian Wilson's kaleidoscopic vision of pop. If there's new litheness here, it's probably because Wolf spent much of the time between albums collaborating—with ex/muse Anna Stewart as the fuzz-pop duo Divorcee, and MC Serengeti as the puckishly depressive Yoni & Geti. And if there's a lithe newness, it may be that Wolf excised some nostalgia via his 2014 solo tapes—one re-recording choice raps from his own catalog, and another covering cuts by artists like Bob Dylan and Pavement. It's no wonder, then, that "The Water" handily morphs a moody folk tune into some strange new form of full-band dub. Or that "One Mississippi" bounces along happily over a flurry of bizarre percussion, whistled melodies, and trippy synthesizer blips. Perhaps most impressive is "Consequence of Nonaction," which vacillates between a quiet meditation for guitar/voice/clarinet, and wild, sax-strewn astral art-funk.

Movement is a key theme of Moh Lhean. It's a breakup album without a romantic interest—coded within the lyrics is a tale about fleeing the seductions of a wintry figure for something synonymous with spring. "Easy" plays like a ward against the old ghost who haunts "January February March," while "George Washington" places our host in a tiny watercraft, "paddling for land/hand on heart and heart in hand" as that faceless malevolent force stays ashore. While writing these songs, Wolf suffered a severe health scare far from home. Rather than drive him to depression, his brush with mortality imparted an incongruous impression of peace and connection to the living. At the end of "Proactive Evolution," wherein WHY? enlists mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss to celebrate the stubborn persistence of humankind, Wolf samples not only thinkers like Sharon Salzberg and Ram Dass, but his actual doctors—the voices that helped shape his new outlook. Sure, Wolf poses as many questions as ever. Moh Lhean's gorgeously psychedelic closer, "The Barely Blur" with Son Lux, puzzles over the nature of existence. But rather than leave us with the macabre chill of death, as many a WHY? LP has, the song dissolves into the infinite—the sound of the Big Bang.

Don't bother asking Wolf what "Moh Lhean" means. He won't tell you. It's the name of his home studio, where friends and family—WHY? regulars Josiah, Matt Meldon, Doug McDiarmid, Liz Wolf, and Ben Sloan, plus a handful of Ohioans—gathered to record this (and also at Josiah's studio, dubbed El Armando). And like the titles of Alopecia and Mumps, Etc., it references a concrete thing that Wolf experienced. Most likely it's something to do with letting go, rebirth, coming home to a familiar feeling, or venturing out to discover a new one. Or maybe it's just a yoga pose. But there's something in Moh Lhean, even with all its mysteries and all its differences, that's both ephemeral and distinctive, like something the Wolf Brothers might've heard on a praise album in their father's synagogue as kids, or on some '60s hippie LP they thrifted in their teens, or, perhaps, on the other side of the records they've been making their entire adult lives. Thus, it seems appropriate to conclude with some words sung on the very first song of WHY?'s sixth album, Moh Lhean: "One thing, there is no other. Only this, there is no other.... Just layers of this one thing."
Open Mike Eagle
Open Mike Eagle
One of LA’s smartest young voices says the LA Times…which the artist suspects, may just be a covert way of saying LA is dumb. “Open” Mike Eagle wouldnt terribly mind, being born and raised in Chicago where the painful winters and his uppity grandparents kept him inside as a youth. He spent his formative years watching alternative music happen on MTV and hoping to one day be able to audition for the Native Tongues. As a young adult after graduating with a degree in Psychology, he did the next best thing and moved to Los Angeles, joining the Project Blowed collective where he made music and toured with Busdriver, Aceyalone, Abstract, Nocando, and more. He’s also gained notoriety in the world of comedy by being invited by professional funny people (Paul F. Tompkins, Hannibal Buress, Matt Besser/UCB) to rap at their shows. He’d like to be rap’s Kurt Vonnegut but recognizes that he’d first have to create something as iconic as the four-stroke illustration of an anus. He practices by releasing rap albums that delight, entertain, and confuse.
Ceschi & Anonymous Inc
Ceschi & Anonymous Inc
Ceschi Ramos is a rapper and singer from New Haven, Connecticut who has been hopping genres and spilling guts for the better part of two decades.He has been seen outside venues at 3am in Germany playing an acoustic guitar and singing to people that didn’t want the show to end. He has written poems to fans from behind bars whilst locked up on bogus marijuana charges. He has suffered a spiral fracture of the humerus while arm wrestling a marine in Hawaii. He has recorded with and toured alongside some of independent rap music’s most influential figures, including Sage Francis, Busdriver and Astronautalis. He has been in bands described as hardcore, crunk rap, lo-fi synth pop, Latin progressive and psych-jazz-rap. He has crafted abstracted and personal narratives mining the depths of depression and heights of hope. He has slept on countless floors when hotels weren’t in the touring budget and lost girlfriends and jobs all for the love of creating and performing.



Ceschi was born with four fingers on his right hand, which served as partial inspiration for the name of his DIY record label, Fake Four, Inc. Those who have worked with him describe Ceschi as one of the most artist-friendly labelheads out there, a rare breed who values art over profit almost to a fault. Since 2008, he has curated a roster of wildly original and critically praised talent and put out albums from the likes of Open Mike Eagle, Buck 65, Sister Crayon and Dark Time Sunshine in addition to his solo records The One Man Band Broke Up and Broken Bone Ballads.



An engaging, theatrical live performer, CeschiRamos has treated entire venues like a stage, viewing the middle of the audience or an empty barstool as good a place as any to perform a soul-baring folk song or tongue-twisting rap track. Ceschi once described himself in song as “a martyr at most… a failure at least” and said that, “In the eyes of history I’ll be no more than a leaf on a tree.” He knows what it is to suffer for his art and is aware that music exploring the ugliness and sorrow of the human condition will always exist on the fringes of a game dominated by disposable escapism and expensive publicists. Yet he still pours everything he has into his craft, and on any given night you can find him tracking vocals at his cousin’s New Haven studio, warmly greeting fans and friends at a dive bar merch booth or rapping double-time in Japan or Europe for audiences that often don’t speak his language, but are able to see the giant heart at the core of it all.

- Brett Uddenberg
Venue Information:
Space Ballroom.
295 Treadwell Street
Hamden, CT, 06514