Best tunes of 2011: #23 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! “Hysterical”

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Here at number twenty three of my Best tunes of 2011 list, we have “Hysterical” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. For this post and song, I’m going to plagiarize myself a bit from some words I wrote back in 2011.

In the fall of that year, I drafted the first of what would become many best albums of the year lists, the first bunch being for my old blog, Music Insanity! (yes, I still have all the content, despite decommissioning the site). In that first list, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah made a surprise appearance in the top ten. The following somewhat explains:

“When their debut album came out in 2005, it was much hyped by all and hyperboles were unleashed from all directions (e.g., the best indie album ever!). I personally thought the hype a bit much but did really enjoy the album. It sounded to me like it was informed by the geek rock post-punk bands of the late 70s and early 80s, bands like the Violent Femmes, the Talking Heads, and Devo. It was peppy, poppy, and sat nicely in just the right space on the weird scale. Unfortunately, when “Some loud thunder” came out two years later, I couldn’t get into it. I was never able to put my finger on why but I guess to me, it just didn’t sound like the same band.

“Fast forward to 2011 and I had all but given CYHSY up for dead because I hadn’t really heard much from them in three to four years. In September [of that year], they released “Hysterical” (self-released domestically, but with indie label help in Europe, like their previous albums) and I gave the band another chance – as I often do for bands in whom I have seen shades of brilliance. This time around, I was pleasantly surprised to find CYHSY back to energetic pop that I fell in love with in 2005. It was as if that second album had never happened.”

I’ve since grown to appreciate “Some loud thunder” but still enjoy the band’s first and third albums better. “Hysterical”, the title track on the latter of the two is great example of the energy we can find there. Frenetic, danceable drumming over washes of synths, the melodic and jangly guitar work, and overall “new retro” sound. But what really holds the music together is the vocals of Alec Ounsworth, whose voice and singing mannerisms are the amalgam of Gordon Gano and David Byrne.

Turn up the Geek rock and bring the noise!

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.