Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (Music CD)

Release Date: 25 July 2011
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A ton of people had their eyes trained on this sophomore release and it's difficult to give it a fair shake once you've muled-up to the "pre-order" download carrot and subsequent hype. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut was a decent, giddy first album -- not the end-all, be-all, "best indie release ever" that it was willed to be by fans and critics. It was just a good record that fortunate events conspired to elevate beyond its own scope and capabilities. It was over-hyped, plain and simple, and (lord bless 'em) the guys in CYHSY soldiered through it all, and seemed well enough armored to take the gushing praise, smile politely, stick it under their collective hat and then get back to doing what they were doing. This is significant because history says that once your band is hyped that much, you're usually toast. Heads get big, sights get set too high and direction is lost. It's sad, but it's often the way these kinds of "best debut ever" stories play themselves out. The proof in the pudding is, without fail, the second record, with all of its anticipated greatness. Will it exceed expectations? Will it be a blunder? Sometimes it all hinges on number two, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut follow-up, Some Loud Thunder, comes to plate, visibly sweating under the strain and stress. The opening song (and title track) "Some Loud Thunder," immediately divides the fan base with insanely compressed and distorted production that makes the rest of producer Dave Fridmann's work sound like purist, two-mic, chamber ensemble recordings. It's waaaaaay over the top (it actually physically hurts to listen to it) -- it's not heavy, it's painful -- and that will make it or break it for some folks right there. Hold up though, remember their debut recording started off with some crazy carnival banter -- maybe this is just the weird opener here? It is. There's nothing else on the album that gets to "Some Loud Thunder"'s level of "ouch" and there's even a "non-distorto" version of the tune floating around the download sites for those who can't take the pain. Get past that, and you start getting into the real stuff -- the bulk of which tends toward meandering tension builders that never really take off. Free from label prodding (and polishing) the guys in CYHSY seem to spend a great deal of this album screwing around on trumpets, accordions and prepared pianos. It sure sounds like they indulged every overdub whim that could be conceived and, at times, it's a bit off-putting for the listener. "Quit screwing around and get back to work...please!" Really, that's good solid advice because when CYHSY apply themselves, good stuff happens. The meandering tension builders ("Emily Jean Stock," "Love Song No. 7," the indulgent instrumental "Upon Encountering the Crippled Elephant," "Goodbye to Mother and the Cove" and "Five Easy Pieces") all have their moments but there's definitely an unfinished and tentative feel here. It sounds like a band accompanying a singer/songwriter who can't fully let go of that riveting coffee house spotlight. On the aforementioned songs, you could strip away all the incidental noodling and end up with a decent singer/songwriter record. It seems, in an effort to sound more sophisticated (read, serious) CYHSY have kind of taken a step backward. It's not all like this though. There are moments of brilliance, both musically and lyrically, and they are all contained in the tunes that are the most realized. "Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?"makes this list, if only for the thoughtful lyrics of Alec Ounsworth. "Arm and Hammer" is where things really start to coalesce. There's still a lot of spontaneous creativity at work here, but it's wrangled in enough to give the tune a sense of purpose. Lyrically, this one's on a mission and it succeeds in being a nice, bitter "F***k Off!!" as well as an affirming manifesto. "Yankee Go Home" is quite good -- maybe the most fully realized thing on the whole album. Great melody,
Release Date: 25 July 2011
  • 1. Some Loud Thunder
  • 2. Emily Jean Stock
  • 3. Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?
  • 4. Love Song No. 7
  • 5. Satan Said Dance
  • 6. Upon Encountering the Crippled Elephant
  • 7. Goodbye to Mother and the Cove
  • 8. Arm and Hammer
  • 9. Yankee Go Home
  • 10. Underwater (You and Me)
  • 11. Five Easy Pieces

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Catalogue No: VVR777786