One-time indie darlings thrive in the margins.
In the dim and distant mid-2000s, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were a new kind of sensation. With the rise of music blogging, it was suddenly possible for an unknown to surf to prominence in a heartbeat, and this Philadelphia band were among the first so elevated. Where they went Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend et al would follow.
This turned out to be bad news for the ensemble’s retiring singer Alec Ounsworth, who famously declined to sign a record deal and grew increasingly prickly under the spotlight.
But, as he soon discovered, in the brave new world of web-fuelled hype, insta-fame can quickly segue into overnight anonymity. By 2007’s Some Loud Thunder, Clap Your Hands’ quirkiness teetered on confrontational eccentricity and the cheerleaders evaporated as quickly as they had materialised.
Maybe that was the plan. When Hot Press interviewed Ounsworth in 2011, the singer was clearly in his comfort zone steering the band through ever more experimental waters. Shrinking audiences and a diminished profile were prices he was willing to pay.
Now, after forays into bedsit electronica and countrified indie, he turns full circle with his fifth CYHSY release. Here he returns to the scratchy, Talking Heads-ian jitter-pop of the group’s initial incarnation (he is the sole permanent member). Adding to the intrigue are the recent personal upheavals, which the 39-year-old has allowed to infiltrate the songs.
“The album was a type of purge,” Ounsworth commented recently. “It was not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me.”
Indeed. ‘Down Is Where I Want To Be’ is a raw-veined dirge that juxtaposes soft-rock with a treated David Byrne-yelp, while ‘Better Off’ and ‘Fireproof’ surf anxious basslines, Ounsworth delivering his lines in a Michael Stipe mutter.
The results are darkly devastating – and perhaps Clap You Hands Say Yeah’s finest hour yet. Long may these mumbly introverts continue to seek freedom in obscurity.
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Alec Ounsworth from the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has released a solo album under his own name and has hinted that the band may be calling it a day.Read More
The indie rock group stop by to chat about a delightful mix of topics, including their latest album, badminton, Jack Nicholson and David Bowie.Read More
Difficult second album syndrome has no place in the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah vocabulary. Not that the blogger faves are exactly busting a gut to have a hit.Read More
ven before they take the stage Cold War Kids and Elvis Perkins have insured the joint will hop and then some. Nothing, however, could adequately prepare one for the maniacal surge when Brooklyn’s finest appear.Read More
Some Loud Thunder covers an impressive stylistic breadth without ever losing the band’s identity.Read More
You can tell it’s festival season when singles start appearing from bands whose albums had started to gather dust on the shelves. Unwieldy of title and length, CYHSY’s ‘TSOMYCT’ has very little chance of doing anything mainstream radio-wise but works as a fine reminder that they are a great little band. Job done then.Read More
Primed to attract and repel in equal measure, Alec Ounsworth’s disaffected drawl is pure vocal Bovril and, for many, the CYHSY maker/breaker. An acquired taste, it will either have you clutching that CYHSY record to your chest in fevered, heart palpitating devotion or reaching for the nearest scalpel to perform a Van Gogh ear double.Read More
Thanks to internet fueled word-of-mouth, Brooklyn’s Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are indie-rock’s latest sensation. But they’d much rather you compared them to Hall & Oates.Read More
How long before someone bandies the phrase ‘doing an Arcade Fire’ in relation to this bunch? Give it five minutes. Granted that this has that same North American unhinged vibe to it, but CYHSY would look set to occupy a more cultish position. This is good in a quirky way, but a perhaps a little too aware of its own sense of importance to be particularly loveable.Read More
How cool are Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Well, cool enough to shift forty thousand units from cardboard boxes before anyone had heard of them. Ice cold enough to make the universally knee-trembling reviews this album received stateside seem far too understated. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, Alec Ounsworth’s Brooklyn five piece has it all going on.Read More
The much-touted Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are set to prove they're worthy of their hype when they come to Dublin's Crawdaddy.Read More