It’s been nearly 10 years since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah came into our lives. Surging through buoyant and bleating New Wave indie pop on its generally beloved self-titled debut, the outfit rushed forth in 2005, spurring one of the Internet era’s first truly overwhelming hype waves. For a time, the group’s label-less rise to critical acclaim and relative commercial success seemed like a fairy tale, a notion summarily discharged when the 2007 follow-up, Some Loud Thunder, landed to mixed evaluations and waning enthusiasm, another early indicator of the music market’s increasing fickleness.
Since then, the band’s frontman and primary creative force Alec Ounsworth has released a solo album featuring New Orleans session musicians, recorded with a few side projects, and released a much-delayed third LP with Clap Your Hands, 2011’s polished but brusquely received Hysterical. Not long after, long-time members Robbie Guertin, Lee Sargent and Tyler Sargent all left the group.
But Ounsworth carries on. The way fans view his art can’t be helped, so he tries not to sweat it.
“It seems somewhat arbitrary whether people like what you do,” he muses. “A lot of it just comes down to people liking different things. If they like it, so be it.”
What: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Where: New Brookland Tavern, 122 State St.
When: Wednesday, June 4, 8 p.m.
With: Stagnant Pools
More Info: newbrooklandtavern.com
In fact, despite the band’s impending 10th anniversary, Ounsworth has actually found creative solace in his post-split material. The fourth Clap Your Hands LP arrives on June 3. Entitled Only Run, its promotion is led by the advance single “Coming Down.” The song is a nervy slab of darkly anthemic art-rock not dissimilar to the work of The National, whose Matt Berninger guests. It seems to build on the expansive polish of Hysterical, feeling increasingly distanced from the quirky, ramshackle beauty of the group’s debut. For the work of an outfit with so much history, it feels remarkably free and unburdened.
“It’s difficult to carve out a space for five guys,” Ounsworth offers. “It kind of feels like I’m starting from scratch again. It’s frightening and liberating at the same time.”
“I think people are going to get carried away with calling it dissimilar to [my other records],” he adds. “What the band does is always going to be fairly consistent.”
Indeed, the band’s sonic calling cards — lush synthesizers, sharp post-punk guitars, warm harmonies, sticky hooks and Ounsworth’s own inimitable vocals — are all present, but they serve songs that feel like distant relatives to that earlier material. The new music is less David Byrne and Jeff Mangum than it is Lou Reed and Thom Yorke. Vocally and musically, this is a more celestial and stately version of the band, one that flies in the face of the manic irascibility that dominated its first two efforts. It feels counterintuitive, but Ounsworth writes it off as a natural evolution.
“I’ve always felt like one CYHSY song leads to the next which leads to the next,” he says. “After all, I don’t want to make “[The Skin of My] Yellow Country Teeth” parts two, three, four and five over and over again.”
This attitude toward a fan favorite from Clap Your Hands’ first record might rub some people the wrong way, but it really makes sense. After all, the impetus of the group’s lightning-fast coronation was its insistence on recording and releasing music entirely on its own terms, unburdened by music industry convention. A decade later, Ounsworth still carries himself in the same manner.
“It’s really surprising, but after 10 years I feel like I am about right where I started,” he says. “I’m just counting on people in my corner and hoping they want to go on this journey with me.”
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
$10 Spa Specials!
Join us for 60-minute facials, microdermabrasion, bikini waxing, and more for only $10! 823 Gervais Street, Suite 120. Text your appointment request to 803-468-4643.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Veteran Vapors now open!
Veteran-owned and operated, Veteran Vapors is located at 2308 Airport Blvd. in West Columbia. This month, 10% of all juice sales will be donated to Save the Ta-Tas. Special discounts available to veterans, military and public safety officials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com