Monday, June 1, 2009

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)

I have to admit I was late on the CYHSY bandwagon when they first came out. I didn't like "In This Home On Ice" on first listen, didn't really get what the big deal was about and just thought of them as a Modest Mouse/Built To Spill knock-off band with their notable off-key singing and crunchy guitar. I think it's still right to be reluctant to jump on any bandwagon for a band right away (how apt), but in this case I was definitely wrong for their debut album (their follow-up we'll get to later).

It's almost the most-perfect summer album that ever came out if anyone knew when it really came out. The buzz surrounding the band's climb is almost more exciting to look at than the album itself (we'll focus on the album here). On its own, the hype is justified in such a swinging debut, Alec Ounsworth's very discernible vocals being the star of the show, but I would go one step further in taking notice of Tyler's Sargent's backing bass throughout the album. Really listen for it "Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)" or "Details of The War" (Really, just listen to any of them) and you'll really hear something that is usually just mixed under power chords or the identifiable organ for this band. Those are both important here too, but those odd little bass lines add what could have been fine songs on their own into something quite more fuller, richer, a better palette for the ears. Whatever romantic comparison you like.

The lyrics may be the standout of the album. "Details of the War" is a drunken ballad to one who has seen too much of war firsthand, or the beauty of "Is This Love?" that is so damn simple Brock and Martsch wish they wrote the song. I especially like the playfulness of "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," not just for the organ buzz that opens the song, but how Alec interprets the band's lyrics into such a grand song that could fill any stadium, detailing shooting down bumble bees with a shotgun. It's fun details that might otherwise go unnoticed. The real stride of the album comes in the middle "Skin," through "Heavy Metal" and up to "Gimmie Some Salt." This medley of hits in ways are the bulk of the album and there isn't a dim song in the bunch, all intimately poppy and catchy in their own odd and unique ways. CYHSY won't be burning up the Top 40 anytime soon, but you're damned if you don't know these songs. Closer "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" is good too. Add that to the medley I just mentioned.

It's a combination of all these member's unique addition to the band to make one full kaleidoscope of sounds to create a really good album. Hard to describe exactly what they sound like besides the fact that the lead singer "sings weird," but their distinct sound of harps, harmonicas and, yes, Alec's voice, all gather to create one hell of an album. Dig it already.

Standout Track: "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"
Overall Rating: 8.8/10

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