Olden Yolk is a New York-based group whose penchant for dystopian folk, abstract poeticism, and motorik rhythms have enveloped them in a sound uniquely of-the-moment yet simultaneously time-tested. The project is led by songwriters, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer, whose interlaced vocals are found guiding each composition on their enlivening self-titled debut. The project was initially conceived in 2012 by Butler as an outlet for one-off songs and visual art while touring and releasing albums with the band Quilt (Mexican Summer). Following the release of a split-record with Weyes Blood in 2014, Olden Yolk became a collaborative entity.
Their debut full-length, slated for release in February 2018 (Trouble in Mind), ruminates on questions surrounding love, self-doubt, and locating autonomy amidst burgeoning unrest. Wrought with hazy melancholy and halcyon joy, Butler and Shaffer’s lilting vocals play off one another through a devotional dialogue, taking form in haunting choral melodies and candid rock n’ roll. These songs are ecstatic odes to the life of the city; to the subway platforms, kiosks, and monuments which enliven and encompass our collectivity, elevating into an urban-psychedelia.
On the album, Butler and Shaffer are joined by drummer Dan Drohan (Tei Shi, Uni Ika Ai) and guitarist Jesse DeFrancesco who round out the studio sessions and live-band. Drohan’s deep passion for jazz, hip-hop, and experimental percussion come to fore while Defrancesco’s minimal yet powerful guitar ambiences are heard swelling in the peripheries of each song. The album was recorded at Gary’s Electric in NYC by Jarvis Taveniere (Woods) with co-production, electronics, and mixing by Jon Nellen (Ginla, Terrible Records). Other guests, such as multi-instrumentalist John Andrews (Woods, Quilt, The Yawns) and violinist Jake Falby (Mutual Benefit, Julie Byrne), add to the mercurial nature of the record, creating a landscape tinged with beatific songwriting and transgressive underpinnings.