If you go
Who: Way Yes
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cedars Lounge,
23 N. Hazel St., Youngstown;
By John Benson
There aren’t too many acts these days garnering comparisons to both Paul Simon’s “Graceland” era and contemporary electronic outfit Animal Collective. However, one Columbus-based outfit is doing just that with unique, if not contrasting, results.
The trio Way Yes — Travis Hall (guitars, vocals, samples, percussion), Glenn Davis (guitars, vocals, samples, percussion) and Max Lewis (bass guitar, percussion) — believes its creative output is nothing short of pop or feel-good music.
“The Animal Collective comparison probably comes from our use of electronics live,” said Davis, calling from Columbus. “We have a handful of samplers and mixers and kind of a nerdy MIDI setup that we use to trigger things live that there’s no way to create on stage. We do a lot of playing around in the studio and sample and manipulate audio, and sometimes you reach a point where you have a really interesting sound and there’s physically no way to play it back live. So we use samplers to trigger back those sounds during our set. That’s the more experimental side.”
The Paul Simon similarity actually is something bigger. This stems from the threesome’s love of African music, which seeps into the Way Yes guitar style. Of late, the act has been influenced by Brazilian rhythms. So in reality, the band actually is exploring a world-music vibe.
These soundscapes are evident on the group’s two previously released EPs (“Herringbone” and “Walkability”), as well as on an upcoming 7-inch due out this fall. The new project finds Way Yes spreading its wings a bit, either defining its future sound or finding the line that exists between sublime and maddening.
“We continue to explore our interest in repetition and hooks and how many times you can repeat a point,” Walker said. “There’s like a fine line between it being something catchy and fun to listen to, and then annoying is the other side of that line. So we’ve toyed with that repetition. And our guitar work is a little bit more technical in the African vein, but the percussion is even stronger in the Brazilian kind of influence. We’ve also gotten a little bit more experimental in other sound effects and vocal effects.”
Way Yes, which played the Lemon Grove late last year, returns to Youngstown on Saturday for a show at Cedars.
“So far, we’ve been received pretty positively, even more than I could expect,” Walker said. “In a real simple aspect, some of the most impactful compliments we’ve gotten are when people tell us they bought our CD and their little kids like listening to it. I think there’s something so genuine of what we liked as kids. It’s not so weird that children can’t have fun listening to it.”
Though that may be good for parents, we’re not sure young and hungry music fans will see the kids-friendly vibe as a turn-on.
“That’s a good point,” Walker said. “Another thing people have picked up on that has gone well for us is a juxtaposition of that feel-good music that’s hopefully pretty instantly relatable, but then there’s like a darker subject matter. ‘Walkability’ was our last EP, and almost every song is about death and losing friends and moving on. So the lyrical subject matter are hopefully things that adults can get into and relate with. It’s darker subject matter we’re writing about with the happier music. That way, anybody can get into it.”