Posts Tagged ‘Alec Ounsworth’

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Trace the arc of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s evolution and it shows an accomplished musician and composer sounding ever more confident, constantly refining and broadening his sound and indulging an ever wider set of influences. Few have been as consistently brilliant, eclectic, and intimate; fewer still have done so while being defiantly, 100% independent, refusing to sign deals that compromise artistic vision. ‘New Fragility’ is a continuation of this, yet it also stands apart as one his strongest collection of songs yet. Personal yet universal, ‘New Fragility’ confronts numerous modern ills.

‘Where They Perform Miracles’, a song concerning spirituality and alternative methods of healing, harks back to Ounsworth’s time as an anthropology student doing fieldwork in Mexico, while Dee, ‘Forgiven’ is an intimate look at what harm anxiety, and the over-prescription of certain medication, has on the vitality of youth. The song contains one of Ounsworth’s strongest vocals yet – a quivering beacon that shifts from a wail to a low grumble in the blink of an eye, a remarkable expressive instrument that sits perfectly amid the understanded orchestration. For 15 years, it’s been one of music’s most distinctive voices, and it’s never sounded as rich or poised.

America is still reeling from Trump’s presidency and his attempted last grab at power, rallying the Far Right for a riot at the White House, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah try to understand the events and bring about a sense of healing on sixth album New Fragility.

“No one seems to be speaking to what I feel like is inescapable. The political environment around the world, but especially the United States – I don’t understand why people don’t try to at least touch on it.” – Alec Ounsworth, Powerful and anthemic, New Fragility is ten tracks which conjures some of the Springsteen magic, and finds strength in sensitivity rather than becoming an outright protest record. By connecting emotionally, rather than making political statements, it becomes all the more compelling.

“New Fragility” Out February 12th, 2021 VIA CYHSY / Secretly Distrubution.

While the days when you might spot David Byrne at a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show are behind us, Alec Ounsworth has continued to hone his skills as a songwriter. Born out of a dark year, “New Fragility” finds Ounsworth inspired and the songs shared so far are terrific. If it doesn’t end up being Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s best since 2005 it definitely will be the best to feature a song called “CYHSY, 2005.” New single “CYHSY, 2005” isn’t about the days when David Byrne would come to their shows, it’s about home. “Part of being away so often is leaving people behind, and never feeling you’re able to establish conventionally meaningful relationships,” says Ounsworth. “You can be searching for stability – being in one place – and discover that that’s an illusion.”

In any discussion regarding songwriters and lyricists of 21st century indie music, Alec Ounsworth and his moniker, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, will feature prominently. Few have been as consistently brilliant, eclectic, and intimate; fewer still remain defiantly independent, refusing to sign deals that compromise artistic vision. That is what characterizes Ounsworth’s oeuvre, especially the lifetime project he initiated sometime in the early 2000s, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And with each release since its landmark self-titled debut, he has refined and broadened his sound, indulging an ever wider set of influences.
Prolific and enigmatic as ever, his recent works marry the quirky, left-field spirit of the early years with a well-earned confidence, and grander sense of scale and ambition. Always heading down new avenues of song arrangement and organic connection to his audience, after nearly two decades Ounsworth remains one of music’s most distinctive voices.

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The upcoming album New Fragility (February 12th, 2021 CYHSY/Secretly Distribution), including the advance singles Hesitating Nation / Thousand Oaks and Where They Perform Miracles, was produced by Alec Ounsworth, with additional production from Will Johnson
 
New Single of upcoming album ‘New Fragility’
Alec Ounsworth

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have announced a new album: “New Fragility” arrives January 29th, 2021 (via CYHSY/Secretly Distribution). Today, the Alec Ounsworth–fronted group have shared two new singles, “Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks.” Hear them both below and scroll down for the album art and tracklist. The title of New Fragility is taken from the David Foster Wallace short story “Forever Overhead,” from the collection Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. The record was produced by Alec Ounsworth, with additional production from Will Johnson.

The LP was recorded by Britton Beisenherz in Austin, Texas, mixed by John Agnello, and mastered by Greg Calbi. “These songs are politically motivated, which is unusual for me,” Ounsworth said of “Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks” in a press release. “The only other song I’ve written about the failed democracy that is the United States is ‘Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.’” “This is a song meant to convey my sense of disappointment and alienation with the rewarded mentality of getting ahead at all costs, inevitably to the detriment of those who didn’t sign up to be part of the experiment,” Ounsworth added of “Hesitating Nation.” Of “Thousand Oaks” he continued, “In 2018, there was a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, which killed 13 people. This song has to do with the impotence of the American government in the face of such tragedies.”

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s last studio album was 2017’s The Tourist. Upcoming Album “New Fragility” Out January 29th, 2021 via CYHSY / SECRETLY DISTRIBUTION 

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It’s been a dozen years since Alec Ounsworth became an Internet sensation, as his band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah bypassed the label system to become internationally known through support from music blogs. But as that support waned with subsequent releases, and as the power of Internet buzz grew more diffuse, Ounsworth found a way to endure. Now on its fifth full-length album — plus side projects for various band members and a 2009 solo record for Ounsworth himself — Clap Your Hands Say Yeah returns with The Tourist, which shimmers, seethes and twitches in appealing new ways.

Still, The Tourist picks up where 2014’s Only Run left off: by deepening and expanding the Talking Heads-esque template of CYHSY’s early work. No matter how distressed and disconcerted Ounsworth appears across these 10 songs, his voice is swaddled in approachable sounds — synths, effects, harmonicas, acoustic guitars — that shine welcome light on his darkest mumbled ruminations.

Ounsworth, who used to so frequently draw comparisons to David Byrne, now sings with the wry, wordplay-intensive twistiness of The New Pornographers’ Dan Bejar. Like its mastermind, The Tourist can get intense, even dark. But it also captures a sense of creative mischief with a sort of live-wire creativity .