There's one band I'll always want to see live, but never will. It’s not a classic that everyone knows like The Ramones, The Smiths or The Beastie Boys. This is a group that I’m almost certain you don’t know. And it’s a shame you don’t, because in a few short days you could be getting about as close to seeing them live as possible.
This group is WU LYF. An enigmatic band that once played Coachella and then disappeared before most of us even knew they were there. But when anyone asks me about my favorite artists, I always turn to WU LYF.
NOBODY sounded like them. And few acted like them. Lead singer Ellery James Roberts was unlike any vocalist I’d heard before or have heard since. The band’s melodies and arrangements were so flooded with raw emotion that you could hardly make them out. They declined interviews, they turned away record deals, they paid for their album by saving up money from live gigs. And then they were gone.
Not long after releasing their self-funded album Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, Roberts posted an unreleased track of theirs on YouTube with a message. Amongst a sea of sentences, the message read “WU LYF is dead to me.” Not long after, music videos disappeared and vinyl copies of the album started listing for as much as $1,000 (and I can’t find a single copy anymore).
But now, four years later, Roberts has re-emerged as part of a brand new duo, LUH. His vocals are back and the production is just as passionate. The two bands aren’t exactly the same, but they shouldn’t be. While WU LYF stood for World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation, LUH stands for "Lost Under Heaven." (Though to be fair, the WU LYF acronym was frequently fulfilled by the lyrics "love you forever" as well, so consider the title ironic.)
Comprised of Roberts and Ebony Hoorn, the duo creates their own videos, artwork and, of course music. And somewhat like Roberts' previous group, they aren't beholden to anyone.
Their debut album, Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing, is as intense and emotionally charged as they come, jumping from techno to ambient to folk and everywhere in between. It seems as though the only thing tying it together is Roberts' voice, the moving lyricism, and the fact that it's on it's own spiritual plane.
Like WU LYF, there is an unmatched level of authenticity here and it hits me like nothing else ever has. "To the powers of old, to the powers that be, you fucked up this world but you won't fuck with me," Roberts states defiantly on 'Lament'.
This weekend, LUH will be playing at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, a notorious festival for artists thriving under the radar. While I cannot wait to see LUH, I'll be out there looking for other rare breeds as well, because what I've come to realize is that often, the most amazing artists live far beneath mainstream detection.