Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Some Loud Thunder
(Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)
As much fun as this bands name is to ridicule, the People's Poet award really needs to be handed to the Little Band that Could and Said Yeah - conquering the universe and being perhaps the only actually independent record anyone listened to last year. Their follow up shows the band squeezing some juice out of their skeletal early Talking Heads reduction to come up with something rather refreshing. Each song here moves through like a mass, each having a distinct idea fleshed out and stretched out to fit the time bracket. The title track that leads this is a bittersweet motormouth voice crack wonder that brings to mind the tender side of Television. "Emily Jean Stock" creates a fog of acoustic guitars where red-needle drums, psyche guitar blasts and the vocals all take turns poking out like nervous birds. "Mama, Won't You keep Those Castles In the Air and Burning" is like the a sleeping pill version on the previous.
What this really reminds me of is Brian Eno's Another Green World and Taking Tiger Mountain. Both artists have a flair for pop structures twisted by their kind rebellion against the same structures. Some Loud Thunder is a sweet, lilting record that floats on the breeze like a fallen leaf, or that plastic bag in "American Beauty". See "Love Song No. 7" where drowsy harmonies are juggled by a lazy piano. "Satan Said Dance" is an odd man out as a dancefloor stomp, perhaps mocking the Williamsburg clich?© from which they emerged, and is frankly the weakest track on the record. They gain yardage back with the dreamy sea chantey "Upon the Encountering Crippled Elephant" and the oddly compelling "Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove" - a complex percussive low-key number that could give Sufjan and his Eagle Scout troop a run for their money.
All this slowly ascends to the final moment "Five Easy Pieces" where a harmonica and Lennon-esque acoustic shuffle bolster a deeply echoing voice darting out form the center of the song. It radiates like a dying star, like a bomb, with a number the guitars and synths and hand percussion all rising in accordance with it. This album has a lot of really interesting sonic pinnacles, but its zenith for me is when everything gets going and then this feedback howl come briefly across the shuffle, dragging the echoed chants back with it. This reminds me of Brian Eno too, but this time the elegant closing title track of Here Come the Warm Jets. Like it, "Five Easy Pieces" manages to take fractured rock and achieves that point George Clinton calls "where repetition becomes sacred," only to dissipate in the air like every triumph does.
(Alex V. Cook's book of rocknroll observations, 'Darkness, Racket and Twang' is available now from the SideCartel)
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com