Personnel: Jose Aybar (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, omnichord); Martin Cartagena (vocals, drums, percussion); Robert Bryn (vocals); Hunter Simpson (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, nylon-string guitar); Jack Dawson (electric violin); Christian Joao (flute, baritone saxophone); Dave Treut (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, keyboards); Kenny Warren (trumpet).
Audio Mixer: Kevin McMahon.
Recording information: Black Lodge Studio, Brooklyn, NY; Colleague Resource Center, Brooklyn, NY; Marcata Studios, New Paltz, NY.
Photographers: Robert Bryn; Gordon Ellmers.
The title of the second full-length album from Wild Yaks, Rejoice! God Loves Wild Yaks, invites more than a few theological and philosophical questions. Since the Deity supposedly loves us all, does God love Wild Yaks any more than the average bunch of guys in Brooklyn? Does the Supreme Being love Wild Yaks because they made this album, or just because they are who they are? Or is it just a matter of the Lord being pleased the band took the time to write a song about one of His/Her offspring? ("Don't Cha Know" devotes much of its three and a half minutes to random thoughts about Jesus.) Whatever the case may be, maybe you won't love Wild Yaks as much as God does, but there are plenty of reasons to like them. Wild Yaks walk a fine line between punk and indie folk, but unlike most folkies, they're not afraid of electric guitars that stir up a healthy buzz, and even when they smooth things out on tunes like "Ex-Wife" and "Don't Cha Know," they know how to bring a good scrappy enthusiasm to the performances. Lead singer Rob Bryn manages to sound playful and sincere at the same time, no mean feat (especially for a bearded hipster from Brooklyn these days), and the band's gang vocals bellow forth with a solid, beer-fueled bonhomie. And Wild Yaks conjure up simple but strong melodies that are well served by the band's mix of acoustic and electric guitars (strummed by Bryn, Jose Aybar, and sometimes Hunter Simpson) and the thundering report of Martin Cartagena's drums. Maybe this album won't fill you with divine love, but Rejoice! God Loves Wild Yaks certainly sounds good while you drink beer and shout along, and who's to say that isn't a valid spiritual experience? ~ Mark Deming