The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Applause worthy for latest ‘Clap Hands’ album

Chris McGrady | Thursday, February 8, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is one of those bands that defies any definition. Somewhere between pop-rock, folk, electronica and alternative lies the true harmony that comprises the music produced by these Brooklyn/Philadelphia rockers and the band’s most recent effort, “Some Loud Thunder” is evocative of this heterogeneous mixture of musical sounds.

Clap Your Hand Say Yeah is a band that is a prototype of the power of the Internet music scene. The band formed in 2004 and self-produced and self-promoted its own music. The band’s addictive sound caught onto Internet listeners and the effect snowballed from there, gathering more listeners and fans every day. As the group garnered praise on indie music blogs, its fan base increased. By the time 2005 was over, the group had signed with Wichita Records and was one of the hottest bands in the country.

Their newest CD, “Some Loud Thunder,” is the group’s second release and is reminiscent of so many different bands that it is difficult to label just one. The band’s five members – Alec Ounsworth, Robbie Guertin, Lee Sargent, Tyler Sargent and Sean Greenhalgh – met at Connecticut College and now contribute to one of the most diverse-sounding rock groups around.

The CD opens with the title track, “Some Loud Thunder” and starts off on a sub-par note. The song sounds like it is too much for speakers to handle and has a grainy, distorted effect. After trying built-in computer speakers, satellite speakers and headphones, the conclusion is that this is the way the song is meant to sound. However, the overall effect of this is one of annoyance. The vocalists’ whiny voices are amplified, and while this style of singing works for most of the band’s songs, this particular track is negatively affected.

The CD takes a sharp upward turn on the next track, however, with “Emma Jean Stock,” a feel-good catchy sound that features sharp guitar-picking and interesting electronic effects.

Another highlight of the album is the song “Satan Said Dance,” a track which opens with some particularly odd electronic sounds and transitions into 5-minutes of high-paced musical action. Next is “Goodbye to Mother and the Cove,” a particularly addictive song. The opening guitar pattern will have the listener bobbing his or her head to the tune within the first 15 seconds of the track. There are no vocals for the first minute of the track and this period serves to display the musical talent that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah really has.

“The Sword Song” is the bonus track on the disc and is also one of the best songs. The song features a strong drum base, overlaid with melodic guitar riffs. The overall effect is an addictive mix and this very well might be the best track on the entire CD. For once, the bonus track on an album is actually a bonus.

The interesting thing about the group Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is that vocally, they really aren’t very talented. Often at times, the notes they sing sound forced and unharmonious. The thing is, the band just doesn’t care. In the style of Bob Dylan, not known for his great voice, CYHSY builds greatness through lyrical genius and musical diversity and talent. The name of the band, in fact, is fitting – its music simply makes the listener clap his or her hands and say, “Yeah!”