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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (self titled)


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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

"Clap Your Hands Say Yeah"


Released in 2005

1. Clap Your Hands!

2. Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away

3. Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)

4. Sunshine and Clouds (And Everything Proud)

5. Details of the War

6. The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

7. Is This Love?

8. Heavy Metal

9. Blue Turning Gray

10. In This Home of Ice

11. Gimmie Some Salt

12. Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood

My feelings towards Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are similar to Elliot Rosewater's feelings towards Kilgore Trout. Both are characters created by author Kurt Vonnegut, who uses them in multiple books. Kilgore Trout is a quirky science fiction writer, and Elliot Rosewater is a very eccentric and wealthy man, who happens to be Trout's biggest (and only) fan. In the book Slaughterhouse Five, Rosewater says, "God, if only Kilgore Trout could write!" Vonnegut, the narrator, explains that Kilgore Trout had terrible prose and writing ability, and that "only his ideas were good." But despite Trout's poor writing skills (in the more objective sense of the term), Rosewater still considers him "America's greatest living author," and writes him a letter suggesting he should be "President of the World."

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is not the most instrumentally talented band in the world. The musicians never do anything very difficult on their instruments. What is most noticeably bad, though, is Alec Ounsworth's voice. One could say that his vocals are influenced by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Black Francis of the Pixies, and David Byrne of the Talking Heads, but it seems unfair to alternative legends Francis and Byrne to be compared to Ounsworth. More accurately, Alec Ounsworth is influenced by crying babies, stray cats, and awkward 13 year olds just starting to go through puberty. His whiny, trembling wail of a voice is constantly cracking. Basically, if he tried out for American Idol, he'd be included with William Hung on their "Worst Of" special, and would go down in youtube.com history, being made fun of wherever he went. Strangely though, Ounsworth's voice works. It fits perfectly with the emotional and bittersweet atmosphere created by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. In fact, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is not only acceptable, they are outstanding. Like Rosewater loves Trout despite his very noticeable faults, I love Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

The music is reminiscent of alternative rock of the 1980's. It's catchy, bittersweet, and affects the listener emotionally. The music is often so emotional, you can't blame Ounsworth for sounding like he's crying. There's a sort of epic simplicity to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The music itself is pretty minimalist sounding, yet the songwriting is grandiose. Each song sounds like it could be the emotional climax of some teen movie from the 80's. Songs like "Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away" are songs that you can imagine in the background of the scene in such a movie where the main character (a troubled teenager) is sitting on top of a hill, or a car, or a tree, or something like that, and he's looking out into the stars with a look on his face that says he has just made a huge life realization. Movies like this are usually cheesey, but Clap Your Hands Say Yeah never dabbles in the cheese zone. There is something very real and honest about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah hide nothing, and this authenticism separates them from a lot of popular music.

Since nobody has ever written a review for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah without mention of how indie they are, I might as well talk about that now. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are the very definition of indie. They have no record label, so they did everything themselves. This includes recording and mixing, burning of CDs, labels, and distribution. When somebody would find out about them (by word of mouth or an internet blog), they would order their CD on their website, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah would mail them the CD. In an age before the internet, a band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah would have had no success. With their uncool image and Alec Ounsworth's terrible voice, there is no way they would have ever gotten a record contract (after selling thousands of albums, record execs approached them, only to be denied for the sake of artistic freedom). And without a record contract, there would be no record sales. However, with illegal downloading, myspace, and blogs (which raise word of mouth to a whole new international level), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was able to have extraordinary success, selling over 40,000 CDs (which doesn't even include the thousands of people who heard the CD through downloading). Clap Your Hands Say Yeah give an inspirational message to all unsigned bands, and to humanity in general: you don't have to sell out to be succesful or happy. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show that you can do whatever you want with music, and as long as it's good, you will have an audience. If everything continues the way it's going, soon we won't need the record companies at all because the "music industry" will consist of musicians and fans, and everyone will have artistic freedom, and everyone will be happy (or sad, or sleepy, or horny, or whatever they want to be), and indie rock will bring about world peace, and the entire world will join hands and sing Kumbayah, followed by a rousing rendition of "In This Home of Ice" whilst prasing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as indie's Moses. OK, maybe that's a little unrealistic, but the point is that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show why we are currently in the golden age for rock music. They are part of the movement that is bringing music back to it's roots...not because of a rootsy sound, but because they are helping create a music industry where the only people who matter are those who make music and those who listen to it.

Edited by Guest
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