“It’s a profound word,” he says. “At once, why asks all the questions that remain unanswered, but it also reveals to everyone how little the asker knows.” When he’s not waxing philosophical, the 27-year-old Cincinnati, Ohio native sounds like a suburban skateboarder. In fact, during one of our conversations, Wolf disclosed that he was in a state of “stoked-ness,” because his band was asked to join the Silver Jews on their limited tour. “I’ve always been a big David Berman fan,” Wolf revealed. “I sent him one of my albums a while back—I wanted to put my music on his radar. Weeks later, I got a postcard back that read, â€˜I like your music.Thanks for sending it.’ I mean, I assume it was from Berman because it wasn’t signed by anyone.”
Wolf’s latest release, Elephant Eyelash (Anticon), is a grower. Nearly a year after it hit shelves, critics are still gravitating towards its brilliance. The heartwarming and unusual record virtually defies categorization. It’s an artful, Dada-influenced sound collage, embracing simple pop sensibilities while giving conventional song structure the middle finger. Wolf’s nasal voice is quirky and vulnerable, perfectly complementing songs that straddle both the accessible and the absurd. Following suit, his lyrics are part head-scratchers and part inspired poetry, whether it’s, “You act like a slut, but you’re really a freezer/We love and hate like the tattooed fists,” or, “Unfold an origami death mask and cut my DNA with rubber traits/Pull apart the double helix like a wishbone.” The latter line comes from his single “Rubber Trait,” which, believe it or not, was a hit in Latin America when the single debuted last year. “That doesn’t really make sense to me, but it’s totally cool,” says Wolf.
Growing up in the house of a Messianic rabbi,the songwriter spent his youth listening to religious music like Stryper. “I was always an outcast to someone,” he recalls. “I wasn’t really Christian, nor was I really Jewish. I was somewhere in-between. “These days, Wolf is in Berkeley, California,taking a much needed break from the constant touring and starting work on the follow-up to Elephant Eyelash, due out this winter. “I’ve been tinkering with a 4-track, recording some basic tracks,” he says. “There’s nothing solid yet but I feel good about it.” It seems like even Wolf doesn’t know what to expect next from his music. But if he continues to push boundaries and challenge the indie mainstream, his next record may very well have the answers we’ve all been looking for.