Only Run by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I have liked the band at #19 since I first heard a song of theirs thrown at me by KEXP back in 2005. I remember being bowled over by them immediately. Then hearing the band’s name, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I couldn’t think of a more strange yet more appropriate name for what I’d just heard.
Fast forward to this past August, when I saw the band perform at the Croc:
I’ve now seen CYSHY eight times, and the transformation of the band over the last nine years has been amazing to witness firsthand. Alec Ounsworth, the band’s principal songwriter, lead singer, and driving force, has calmed himself. No longer does he bounce around on stage, as he once did oh so many years ago. He sounds very much the same, allowing his broken, high-pitched, David-Byrne-meets-Gordon-Gano voice to carry him through.
And later on in the same article:
Barely moving around, not quite leaving the mic, [Ounsworth] looked tired. The set was still fun, and the rest of the crowd seemed pleased with what they were hearing. Perhaps it was an off day for him. But more likely, I feel he’s a reluctant star. The band’s debut album, self-released, was an overnight success, and still holds up well nearly 10 years later. It will be one of a handful of albums that defines the early 2000s for many years to come. And that can be a hell of a lot of weight on somebody.
The band’s second album, Some Loud Thunder, was generally panned by critics, so that just adds to the difficulty Ounsworth has had to endure. Hysterical, the band’s third album, from 2011, started to show signs of life, and brought me, personally, back into liking the band. Only Run, their fourth in just nine long years, is the best of “new CYHSY.” But the years have clearly taken their toll on Ounsworth, who appears as if he’d prefer to stay at home and make music rather than tour around and play 9-year-old songs to a crowd that doesn’t appear to appreciate his new work as much.
Well I’m here to say I do appreciate his new work. All of it, in fact. Hysterical was on the 2011 countdown at #16, and Ounsworth’s solo album, Mo Beauty, ended up on my first-ever countdown at #20. Only Run is better than both of those albums, and it only ranked at #19 because there was a lot of good music this year. There’s even a track on the album that features Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National).
I hope Ounsworth and CYHSY continue to create and play music well into the future. I hope the exhaustion I saw in him back in August was just a temporary thing. And I hope you like this album. The more of us who like it, the more likely they are to continue to making great music.
Side Note: In looking for the video to put at the top of this post, I came across this great song by German DJ/producer Claptone featuring Alec Ounsworth on vocals. The song is called “Ghost” and the video is kinda creepy, but watch it so you can listen to the song. And of course, there’s a site that documents an interview the two of them did of each other.
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21. El Pintor by Interpol
22. I Never Learn by Lykke Li
23. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke
24. The Voyager by Jenny Lewis
25. Voices by Phantogram
26. Morning Phase by Beck
27. Hungry Ghosts by OK Go
28. Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels
29. Cosmos by Yellow Ostrich
30. Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady
31. With Light & With Love by Woods