Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I suppose that you could call Clap Your Hands Say Yeah the band that was launched by a single review. As an unknown batch of artists hailing from the New York area, they received an absolutely glowing review from a certain online review site, creating an instant buzz for their CD (which sold out of its initial pressing right away) and their performances. Although there have been instances of groups garnering acclaim through the wildfire information clearinghouse that is the internet, CYHSA is this years perfect example of the little unsigned band that could.
In terms of other artists, the group has been compared to everyone from The Arcade Fire (who themselves recieved a huge load of press from the internet world) to The Talking Heads, and both comparisons are warranted at times. The vocals of singer Alec Ounsworth at times resembles David Byrne when he's not completely overdoing things and in places the group lends just as much cred to the keyboard as the guitar, making for retro-sounding tracks that buzz and chime.
After the carny sideshow intro of "Clap Your Hands!," the group launches into "Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away" and they make a bid for indie stardom with a proficient rhythm section (including plenty of shakers), solid guitar work and crooning vocals from Ounsworth. "Over And Over Again (Lost And Found)" is a track where The Talking Heads references were easily founded as Ounsworth sings his tracks with a more rhythmic inflection while the stripped-down, keyboard and guitar instrumentation provides a quaint backdrop.
As mentioned above, Ounsworth gets a bit over the top with his vocal warblings in places and "The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth" is a perfect example as he wails and croons nasally over a instrumental backing that sounds more like Peter Hook led New Order than anything else while "Heavy Metal" again finds him bleating over a more fuzzy guitar indie rock track. Like all aquired vocalists, though, his weird quirks do grow on you, especially because the music backing him is so solid most of the time. With twelve songs that clock in at just under forty minutes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have turned in a debut album that is assured even if several tracks feel more like short noodling sessions than anything else ("Sunshine And Clouds (And Everything Proud)" and "Blue Turning Grey"). Production on the release isn't outstanding, but for a self-recorded and released album that nobody probably expected to blow up like it did, it captures the rough charm of the group quite well. With some more performing under their belt and the help of a label (which they'll no doubt get now), I can't wait to hear what they do from here on out.