Some Loud Thunder

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The rise of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was the heartwarming David-vs.-Goliath indie rock tale of 2005. It goes like this: Brooklyn five-piece records self-titled debut, decides it doesn't need a record label, self-releases the disc, earns a 9.0 from Pitchfork (without a press kit!), trots the globe in true rock-star fashion.

All right, maybe the band didn't earn enough dough for a downpayment on a Cribs-quality crib, but indie-rock sorta-stardom is definitely in the bag. Heck, the group was big enough last spring to nail a gig at south Florida's Langerado festival.

Have I stressed enough that CYHSY did all this without ever signing a record deal, indie or otherwise? The expected move would be for the band to jump onto one of the larger underground imprints and give up the more tedious tasks for good. But CYHSY has decided to go it alone again this year, self-releasing its sophomore disc, Some Loud Thunder. (Although, it should be noted that the band has enlisted Big Hassle Media for publicity.)

But enough about the business side of things. How does it sound?

Some Loud Thunder has a more obscure air about it than the bright, clean New Wave of the debut. The opening title track wouldn't sound at all out of place on the first album, but the drums are given a distorted boom that pushes the drawling melodies and chiming guitars into the background a little bit. The shift isn't a surprise, given the drum treatments that producer Dave Fridmann has given bands like The Flaming Lips and Sleater-Kinney.

Other tracks continue in the same vein, rubbing warm vocals directly against drums recorded so far into the red that they hardly sound like drums anymore. It's a winning strategy, and one that makes relistening to these songs more revealing than repeat plays of the group's debut.

In an indie rock environment that doesn't always reward subtle experimentation, CYHSY deserves credit for mixing up its sound without ever forgetting why people sat up and paid attention to an unsigned, unhyped band in the first place. 4 stars

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