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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 27 November 2006
I bought it on a whim, and now I can't stop listening to this album.

I'd heard good things about Clap Your Hands, but like many bands that I hear good things about, I expected to be disappointed. So it was a really pleasant surprise when from the outset, I really enjoyed the album. I'm more of a rock/metal sort of person, and I'd probably describe this as pop, but what excellent pop! Has a great upbeat tempo, that makes you feel happy.

It is one of those sort of bands that you want to liken to something, but you struggle to pin down. It definitely has a Talking Heads vibe in places, it sometimes reminds me of the Cure, Arcade Fire, Flaming Lips or Violent Femmes, it often has a similar electronica sound to the Human League, and has a lot of the simplistic brilliance of the Beta Band. The lead singer is a bit nasally for my liking (think Rufus Wainright), but for some reason it seems to work.

Buy it, it's cheap, and it'll make you smile!
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on 11 January 2006
Comparisons with early period 'Talking Heads' are inevitable but 'Clap Your Hands Say Yeah' add a great deal of fun to the new wave revival (if there is one!) With skewed vocals and addictive tunes that bend and stretch until you feel dizzy but delighted. The first listen leaves you feeling that you missed something, but it certainly drags you back in for another listen with the two tracks 'Over and Over Again' and 'The Skin of my Yellow country Teeth' jumping out of the speakers at you.
If you enjoy quirky off the wall bands and singers such as the aforementioned 'Talking Heads' and others like 'XTC', 'The Modern Lovers' or even 'Cake' then you can't possibly ignore this offering. Next big thing? Nope-too specialist. But that's a good thing. Now I'm off to play it once more.
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At least twice a year, indie-rock buzz reaches a frenzy over some new, strange band, usually with a funny name and a sound that is different from any other new band.

This year, it's the turn of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled debut, which may have the most unbearably twee name of the year. But don't get hung up on that. Their music is what matters, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah evoke charming melodies, catchy tunes, and maybe a bit of the madcap carnival.

It opens with an imitation of a carnie, calling in an insane, unenthusiastic crowd. Singer Alec Ounsworth seems to be calling people in to enjoy the music, by telling them to "clap your hands!" over and over, with the crowd replying, ""But I have no money!/But it don't seem likely/Are you up to somethin?/Where's my milk'n'honey?/But I just look funny..."

It's a delightful intro, but a good album needs more than that. And it does just that, by quickly seguing into clean indie-pop with pulsating basslines. Then Ounsworth and Co. introduce us to some murky, fuzzy dance music, folk pop, sparkling indie pop with jangling guitars, and even a sort of sweeping twee synthy pop. It shouldn't fit together as well as it does, but the upbeat tone and sparkling melodies stick all these styles together.

One of the closest comparisons to this album is Arcade Fire's "Funeral" from last year, since both of them sport a unique sound and eclectic instrumentation. But where Arcade Fire is downbeat, these guys are resolutely weird, upbeat and cheery.

They also have a special way with creating catchy pop -- most catchy stuff is very simple and forgettable. But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah weave in layered guitars, toy piano, low-key bass and some buzzing, fuzzy synth with tight acoustic melodies. The result is driving, energetic music that is anything but forgettable.

Alec Ounsworth has a sort of "indie voice" like Jeff Mangum's, a bit flat in places. But the crazier the song gets, the better he sounds, and he yowls and yodels as if he really is bringing people into a circus. And while the songs seem oblique, they gradually take on meaning: "Success is so forbidding/But it makes me think I'm winning/Quiet/Dim the lights/Adopt another lifestyle..."

Is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as good as they say? It's certainly a contender. This charming mad melange has charm, beauty and entertainment, and is definitely worth getting.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
At least twice a year, indie-rock buzz reaches a frenzy over some new, strange band, usually with a funny name and a sound that is different from any other new band.

This year, it's the turn of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled debut, which may have the most unbearably twee name of the year. But don't get hung up on that. Their music is what matters, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah evoke charming melodies, catchy tunes, and maybe a bit of the madcap carnival.

It opens with an imitation of a carnie, calling in an insane, unenthusiastic crowd. Singer Alec Ounsworth seems to be calling people in to enjoy the music, by telling them to "clap your hands!" over and over, with the crowd replying, ""But I have no money!/But it don't seem likely/Are you up to somethin?/Where's my milk'n'honey?/But I just look funny..."

It's a delightful intro, but a good album needs more than that. And it does just that, by quickly seguing into clean indie-pop with pulsating basslines. Then Ounsworth and Co. introduce us to some murky, fuzzy dance music, folk pop, sparkling indie pop with jangling guitars, and even a sort of sweeping twee synthy pop. It shouldn't fit together as well as it does, but the upbeat tone and sparkling melodies stick all these styles together.

One of the closest comparisons to this album is Arcade Fire's "Funeral" from last year, since both of them sport a unique sound and eclectic instrumentation. But where Arcade Fire is downbeat, these guys are resolutely weird, upbeat and cheery.

They also have a special way with creating catchy pop -- most catchy stuff is very simple and forgettable. But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah weave in layered guitars, toy piano, low-key bass and some buzzing, fuzzy synth with tight acoustic melodies. The result is driving, energetic music that is anything but forgettable.

Alec Ounsworth has a sort of "indie voice" like Jeff Mangum's, a bit flat in places. But the crazier the song gets, the better he sounds, and he yowls and yodels as if he really is bringing people into a circus. And while the songs seem oblique, they gradually take on meaning: "Success is so forbidding/But it makes me think I'm winning/Quiet/Dim the lights/Adopt another lifestyle..."

Is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as good as they say? It's certainly a contender. This charming mad melange has charm, beauty and entertainment, and is definitely worth getting.
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on 1 November 2006
This album is fantastic. They have a really new sound - despite whatever people say about comparisons to various bands, their sound is their own - and the songs are catchy, musically intelligent and have great lyrics. It's very different from a lot of the overly commercialised stuff around at the moment - don't get me wrong, some of that is great but this is a breath of fresh air. I suppose generally they could be classed as indie - they're more mellow than you might expect from hearing that, but at the same time this is great to dance to and is really uplifting. Tracks like Over and Over Again (Lost & Found) and The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth are simply beautiful and this album stands being played over and over again itself. This band has great potential and this is a stunning debut.
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on 13 February 2006
It’s becoming a familiar story; band discovers the internet; internet falls in love with the band; .mp3s circulate and before any record label can say, “sign on the dotted line,” the band have already hawked thousands of copies online. The Arctic Monkeys may be this island’s most famous exponent of the internet, but Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have been doing the same thing across the Atlantic. But, for those of us who prefer artwork, liner notes and stuff, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have released their debut album in the UK through Wichita.
Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way; yes, vocalist Alec Ounsworth sounds more than a bit like David Byrne. But to deride the album on those grounds would be preposterous. The tone may be similar, but Ounsworth staggers his way through the album with such a giddying slur that the imperfections in his voice succeed in embellishing the tight arrangements that surround it.
The maniacally kitsch carnival of the eponymous opener recalls Tom Waits, but, while dazzling, it’s not indicative of what follows. Only the dreamlike ramble at the conclusion of the track sets the tone for the rest of the album. The rampant tambourine and crisp drum rolls of Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away follows and is quickly succeeded by the crazed synths and tangled guitar of Over And Over Again (Lost And Found).
Details Of War is as close to a torch song as the band are ever likely to record. Ounsworth leaves his Byrne impression aside, adopts a weary croon and ends up sounding like Seven-era Tim Booth. The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth, with its buzzing synth, Modest Mouse-esque trebly guitar and shuffling drums, is another stand out. Here, Ounsworth is entirely in his element. With the urgency ramped up, his voice cracks and then cascades to the song’s conclusion. Immediately after, last year’s single, Is This Love?, has Ounsworth offer his most dizzying harmony; a pattern which carries over onto Heavy Metal, arguably the poppiest track on the album and, also, perhaps the most extraordinary.
But, just as you might fear the album will collapse under the weight of ambition; incredible album closer Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood conclude with the needle being simply pulled from the record. Ounsworth has barely finished caterwauling the plight of child stars and the band are locked into a hypnotic melody; the terse silencing of the song and of the album mid-flow is entirely unexpected, but then Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are a band with little time for subtlety.
Where the band go from here is anyone’s guess, but as an opening gambit, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is nothing short of staggering.
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on 5 October 2005
I'm surprised I'm the first person to review this album on Amazon considering the incredible hype it's received. Initially championed by Pitchfork, they have received the "next best thing" tag from almost everywhere. All this despite only recently signing a record deal (the band managed to sell in excess of 10,000 copies themselves through word of mouth) So is the hype legitimate? Are they the new Arcade Fire? Will they save rock and roll? Is the lead singers (Alec Ounsworth) voice crap? Well the latter question depends on personal taste I suppose. From the first track, a weird "roll up roll up" circus type announcement, you can tell that Alecs voice is definitely not conventional. There are the obvious shades of David Byrne throughout but by the time "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" ends (and slides beautifully into "Is this Love?") you're singing into your hairbrush trying to replicate that tuneless wail. ."Details of the War" ,"In this Home of Ice" and "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" are the highlight tracks, the latter ending with a gorgeous 2 minute repetition of the words "child starts" It's definitely an album that gets better as it goes on, please don't give up after the first track ! And also an album that becomes even better when you spend time reading the lyrics on the inlay card. Is it worth the hype? I think so but buy it quick before the backlash.....
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on 21 February 2006
It's a great album. I agree with the David Byrne comparison, but it also puts me in mind of the (probably by now uncool) Kings Of Leon.
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on 30 December 2006
I have to admit, I dismissed this band before I'd even heard their music - I initially placed them into the same pile as all those other bands with ridiculous, longwinded, clever names. Thankfully I was proven wrong.

Not an album I would ever have come to if it weren't for having read the CYHSY mentioned in the same sentence as Mercury Rev, Rufus Wainwright, Flaming Lips etc - comparisons which I can hear. Pleasantly suprised by this album - highly recommend it - particular highlight being 'Details of War'.
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on 8 March 2006
These days, every debut album is considered an immediate masterpiece... or at least they are according to the snobs at Pitchfork, Q and the NME. I don't normally buy it myself. I mean, how much faith can you have in a band if you honestly think they can do no better than that first naive clutch of four-chord energising and lyrical rumination?? Imagine the musical landscape today if acts like Radiohead, The Cure, Pulp, Beck, Anthony and the Johnsons, Björk, Cocteau Twins, Scott Walker, Talking Heads and Neutral Milk Hotel had all called it quits after their first albums, subsequently denying the world the pleasures of OK Computer, Disintegration, I am a Bird Now, Homogenic, Treasure, Tilt, Remain in Light and In The Aeroplane Over the Sea!! However, having said that, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one of those albums that - if the band do decide they want to call it a day in the next five months - is nothing to be ashamed of... standing alongside other great (recent) debuts like Turn on the Bright Lights, Fever to Tell, The Milk Eyed Mender, Castaways and Cutouts, and Faded Seaside Glamour.
Whatever it is that makes bands great, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have got it!! The album unfolds perfectly, with great track following great track, and the record as a whole featuring a terrific sound and an absolutely wonderful production. Stylistically, Clap Your Hands... have pulled off the trick of managing to blend personal influences into a sound of their own, with that particular sound incorporating elements of Talking Heads, Arcade Fire and the Animal Collective (in the way the band use exotic percussion and elaborate rhythms to advance of the typical indie-rock template), whilst there's the lush dream-pop element of bands like The Shins, The Delays, My Bloody Valentine and, I suppose, the odd shard of The Olivia Tremor Control/Circulatory System, all tied together by a singer who sounds remarkably like a strange (though no less stunning) amalgamation of Greg Gilbert, David Byrne and Thom Yorke. You could probably add further stylistic parallels to the studio-based pop of XTC and the same jerky-80's style indie-dance/pop rhythms favoured by the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party... though again, with a more unique approach that sounds absolutely nothing like anyone else currently making music!!
The album opens with the bizarre stomp of Clap Your Hands - a song that could very well be an outtake from the Tom Waits' masterpiece Blood Money - which has had some listeners sadly reaching for the ear-plugs (or the stop-button). Then again, some listeners would rather have Jack Johnson and Corrine Bailey Rae over the sublime pop presented here... so it's their loss!! The rest of the songs establish a sound somewhat similar to the one I tried to describe above, with the guitarist going for a lush shoegazer-style shimmer made up of layers of different distortion, which becomes even more gorgeous when coupled with those vocals... with Alec Ounsworth here recalling a young Damo Suzuki, as he bends and distorts the shape and sound of the lyrics, in order to make them fit those lush musical melodies. Some songs employ a flourishing bombardment of guitar effects (like the excellent In This Home of Ice), whilst some bring in a touch of keyboards (Over and Over Again), a children's music-box (short instrumental Sunshine and Clouds) and even a tasteful touch of acoustic guitar (perhaps my favourite track here, Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood... which recalls the classic British indie-sound of early Stone Roses, The Field Mice and The Pastels, alongside those prevalent nods to the Talking Heads).
The whole album holds together exceedingly well, though the highlights are definitely Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away, Details of the War, Over and Over Again, The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth, In This Home on Ice and that lovely abovementioned closing track, This Tidal Wave of Young Blood. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a magnificent album from a great new band, who unlike the Arctic Monkeys (who are OK, I guess), really deserve the hype. This is one of those debut albums that really could be considered a classic debut (in my opinion at least), and genuinely shows us a band who can take on board retro-elements and influences (like the ones listed throughout) and still sound interesting and unique. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a wildly inventive, perfectly performed and absolutely joyous album that is easily as much fun as recent releases by the Animal Collective and Tilly and the Wall, and probably presents another early highlight of the year thus far!!
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