Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

June 7, 2006

The occurrence of such an album is rare in this day and age, indeed. It is hard to find a band with such good intentions and different enough style and values to really last or make any impact on the industry despite their different, almost off-putting sound. But that isn’t what makes this album unusual, because these such bands show up every so often anyway. But what is really amazing about this piece of work is that it wasn’t actually released on any label. The band doesn’t seem to have any desire to get themselves wrapped up in any contracts or anything, which is fine, as long as they understand that they need to do the work to hype the album, record it, release it, etc. Well, they did all that, and when you think about it, the time they took recording, promoting, and distributing this album would probably get pretty close to the time that most bands end up wasting time arguing and messing around with a label. So this is some kind of revelation, and a reminder that there are still people sitting around in their homes liking this kind of thing even if it is not official enough to be considered radio music. But that’s okay, because it is still music, and people seem to realize that, because this album is very respected and hyped, mostly due to the online blogging community and other such modern day forms of media.

The very first track is probably off-putting enough to confuse even people who expect the unexpected, and thrive on curious music like this. It sounds like something The Beatles might have done (or maybe they did do, I’m drawing a blank right now). It’s this strange, happy circus tune. If it was the first material you heard from the band, you would get a little nervous, because you would then be expecting some big shift of style and a massive shocking suprise switch to heavy metal or punk rock or something. The voice actually propels that suspicion too, with it’s lazy calling, but while there is obviously a big style change, it is not a complete parallel. It is a shift to a much more lighthearted atmosphere. The actual sound of the album is pleasing. It is a very lazy album, but it is made in a very precise way, at least instrumentally. You’ll notice that I’m really into lazy type stuff. This is really an album you can feel okay daydreaming to.

Most of the sound reminds me of a certain image that I have actually made an entire playlist around. It is the image of people sitting on rooftops looking around at a city, perhaps a city that is in fast motion, so that the lights are blurred. It is almost nighttime, but not quite. So that the sky is bright enough to see whats in front of you pretty well, but the actual sun is obscured by clouds or buildings or something. That’s totally the image I’m getting. Anyway, the vocals here are very lazy and drifty, but they try to be. They fit the music well enough if you are accepting enough, and in a way that is much reminiscent, to me any way, of The Meat Puppet’s sound. It’s kind of lazy, like it’s not trying hard enough, but it works on a good enough level to keep consistant. And the instrumentation almost always seems to include some kind of looming backdrop of pleasent chords which really complement the songs as they are in the forefront. And that kind of sound usually consists of a simple beat and a slightly jumpy bassline and a guitar part that seems to help the driftiness a lot by focusing on the ends of the notes rather than the middle, if that makes any sense to those of you who are very musically inclined.

And the humor in this album is very pleasing. I say humor, but it is not always as out in the front as lines like “you look like David Bowie/but you’ve nothing new to show me.” The band clearly understands their predicament of not really being a band for everyone by giving the voice a break and laying on the three tracks of filler, which once again may have been able to creep you out if you didn’t know what to expect from the band, but by the time the last two arrive, are almost pleasing little blurbs. And beyond that, the lyrics and titles of songs are all very funny too. But what the sound exudes in the form of humor is also emphasized in the form of simple comfort, because the songs themselves are decorated with twinkles and pleasing details which unbury themselves upon multiple listens.

To me, each and every band has at least one song that sort of expemplifies their sound. It’s usually not one of their flat out most popular songs, because it doesn’t necessarilly have a completely wonderful hook, but it really displays their style very well and is the kind of song you would hear on the radio and recognize as that artist not because of the hook or anything, but because of the sound. They are the vintage songs of their artist. These tracks are always my favorites. Yes, the songs on this album all individually have a lot of power, but I’ll be the first to say that many of the songs sound alike at first because they all have those same feelings. But all of the songs are reliable, and I think that’s very good. Just don’t expect any extreme shifts in style. But you can feel good knowing that just about every song could be played at the climax of some movie, at the big life-changing moment, the final kiss, the first kiss, the hug of friendship, the deep realization, etc.

The key tracks are The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth, Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away, In This Home On Ice, and Over And Over Again. But there are tons of treats here, especially Gimme Some Salt. I wasn’t expecting this one to be as pleasent as it was. It’s a really solid record, especially considering the conditions under which it was recorded and released. And they are a hot name, so I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to assume that there will be a follow-up to this album. I don’t know when, but I sure hope soon, because this is just begging for a sequel. And there are actually a lot of really standout tracks, but once again, you really have to give this album a few strong listens before you can pick out your favorites. The style that the album has almost seems like a style that a band would only reach out to for one or two songs, but clearly it can work for an entire record if the musicians are smart and persistant enough. And they are. The good thing about this is that none of the songs dip below the mediocre line, and that kind of reliability is very much appreciated in the industry (or lack thereof) today.

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