There is more than one artist with this name: 1) An American indie rock and hip hop band 2) A British folk-pop band.
1) A trio of Cincinnati-born men who fiddle with skins, strings, bells and microphones and present their findings to the listening public. Singer Yoni Wolf grew up the second son to an art book editor and a rabbi. He got his start recording bad poems and sloppy beats on the family synagogue’s 4-track. In junior high he discovered hip-hop. At art school, he learned how to drop out. Yoni’s brother Josiah played drums at Rabbi Wolf’s worship service as a kid, became a band geek as a teen, and fell in love with Thelonious Monk on his way to study music at University of Cincinnati. Doug McDiarmid would eventually get expelled from that same school for carrying a stun gun, but first he was raised by two French teachers and taught piano while in kindergarten. He also went to high school with the Wolfs, where he played in Steve Miller cover bands.
In various permutations together and with other now-notables (i.e. Doseone, Odd Nosdam, Mr. Dibbs, Atmosphere’s Slug), these three created and/or contributed to several freewheeling rap and lo-fi rock-related projects including Greenthink, Miss Ohio’s Nameless, Reaching Quiet, and the seminal cLOUDDEAD outfit. Their wildest dreams were achieved when they relocated to Oakland to make pop-inflected psychedelic folk-hop.
For four years, two EPs and 2003’s cult classic LP, Oaklandazulasylum, WHY? comprised Yoni Wolf alone. He honed his trademark delivery – a sickly sweet, half-rapped, singsong style – shined up his wry, picturesque poetry, and developed a clip-and-collage aesthetic using keyboards, toys, guitars, samplers and anything worth banging on. When Doug and Josiah moved west to join Yoni, they brought with them a hoard of instruments and the ability to wail on every last one. By chops and imagination, WHY? grew into a thing of flesh, bones and fully fledged songs, resulting in 2005’s Elephant Eyelash album. Critics swooned; ladies lauded; WHY? neither resisted nor rested. They toured – with Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, and Islands. They collaborated – with Danielson Family, Department Of Eagles, and Subtle (Yoni also recorded with Fog’s Andrew Broder as “Hymie’s Basement”). They put out yet more music.
The brand new album Eskimo Snow is something of a companion piece to last year’s celebrated Alopecia LP. In February of 2007, the WHY? trio temporarily relocated to Minneapolis and officially inducted Fog players Andrew Broder and Mark Erickson. Recording live as a five-piece, WHY? created two distinct albums from those sessions: Alopecia, with its taut rhythms and biting wit, and Eskimo Snow, a shadowy and sprawling set that finds Yoni resigned to and ever-awed by those infinite erring bits of existence that make WHY? what it is.
2) Also an English folk-pop band active during the 90s. They released nine albums between '91 & '99, including the curiously-titled Pinnenstripeensuitenwearenfoddergeburnenclippenclopen.