Indie rock is alive and well with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) and this could be palpably felt with the energy and excitement that filled the Oxford Arts Factory on a Monday evening. A disembodied voice came from the stage posing the question: Is There Anybody Out There? The voice and the opening of the curtains were met by screams and hoots as Alec Ounsworth (as usual in a cap) and his mates hit the stage. The sunburnt faces from a weekend out in the sun (probably out at The Harvest Festival) were beaming and the upbeat guitars and driving drums along with the well known melodies of this Brooklyn based outfit were made for this venue and not a paddock in Parramatta.
CYHSY, according to the pundits, seemed to be on the brink of extinction until word came that they were releasing an album this year. With Alec making a solo record, the sophomore record (Some Loud Thunder) not as critically praised and other members making noise on other projects, word of Hysterical being released was a blessing for fans of this synth/guitar punchy pop.
With the album being fairly new, songs were introduced as if the crowd would not know them, but that was not to be the case tonight. “Same Mistake” and “Hysterical” were received rapturously as was the more spacey and atmospheric “Misspent Youth” from the new record. All in all about 75% of the new record was given an airing. “Ketamine and Ecstasy” was done at a blistering pace with soaring synths and Alec singing loud and passionate with most of the audience.
Robbie Guertin jumped between keyboards and guitars and his enjoyment level was matched by the Sargent twins (Lee on guitar/keys and Tyler on bass). The joy was equally apparent on the face of Sean Greenhalgh as he bashed his drums and he made a big impression when playing duelling skins with Robbie.
Highlights from the first album were” In This Home On Ice” which reverberated around the Factory; “Is This Love” is one of those songs that is very reminiscent of David Byrne and was delivered with the power of a tsunami; and “The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth”, quite simply one of their best, left the adoring crowd wanting more.
Alec had said earlier in the night that doing their own gig was an opportunity for them to ‘play all night’. You could tell his tongue was firmly planted in his cheek as he smiled out at his youthful army of admirers. But hey, they were not done and with a bit of “Tidal Wave” and “Heavy Metal” CYHSY had left the crowd on a high and left Alec and his band with the idea that another album would be more than appropriate.
All in all a fabulous way to begin anyone’s working week.
– Paul Busch