It may well be a classic. "Yes, yes," you say, "Okay, okay, I've heard that before." Of course we wouldn't fault you for it. It's still something of a secret that HUSH records has issued some of the best music Portlanders have committed to tape over the past 6 years. For their part, Graves have been fairly shy with their touring schedule and their debut Love Love Love was a certified sleeper. But forgive us: We aren't here to tell you what you should think about this album. Just spin it. Spin it in the background, spin it in the foreground; in the morning, at night, in the car. Take your time. Observe how it colors your environment. Is it cloying, overwrought, insipid, uninspired, fake? Or is it satisfying, unaffected, charming, inspired and sincere?
Graves is in fact the pen name for songwriter Greg Olin. With Yes Yes Okay Okay he guides a cadre of sympathetic musicians (members of Norfolk and Western, Desert City Soundtrack, and Little Wings) on a second outing to a distinctly natural, sweetly exhilarating place. Whereas 2003's Love Love Love found songs ricocheting off each other within the confines of an album - overflowing as they were with texture, mood, lackadaisical melody, and the occasional outburst--Yes Yes Okay Okay dispenses with the restless energy, opting almost entirely for a palate of nylon string guitar, loping bass, crisp drumming, piano, trumpet, hand claps and finger snaps. Herein Olin finds a perfect foundation for his tender, earnest, melodic vocals and just-shy-of-stream-of-consiousness lyrics. It's not surprising that he's been compared to Stephen Malkmus in dishevelment and melodic predisposition, but a more accurate touchstone might be Cass McCombs, if only for the sensitivity in his songwriting.
The truth is we don't know exactly what it is about Yes Yes Okay Okay that we never tire of listening to it around here, but we're pretty sure it has the je ne sais quoi to become a musical heirloom for more than ourselves.
released August 2, 2004
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