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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Clap Your Hands Say Here Come the Hype and Backlash

The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah phenomenon seems tailor-made for a case-study in hype and backlash, if anyone's looking to do some groundbreaking journal article on that.
Hype too often gets credited as starting from a flashpoint, where I think it generally comes about through, if not some sort of collective semi-conscious, at least a broad base. The first review of CYHSY I saw was at Stylus, but other online magazines had there reviews up within days, too quick to feel that Stylus broke the band (not an argument I'd make -- the underground conversation had been happening). So possibly the hype is the result of an insular community managing to get its press machine running on several fronts at once. And, yeah, the Pitchfork factor is still high (see Insound's recent sale dedicate to PFM's Best New Music).

The backlash, predictably is beginning. So far I've only seen it in private conversations and on message boards, but the press side should be hitting soon enough (although CYHSY may still need to get a little bigger). I'm having a hard time understanding what's driving either side, though.

The self-titled debut is good enough, but it's really only got three standout tracks ("The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth," "In This Home on Ice," and "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood"), and I'd have sworn "In This Home" was a cover of that '80s song I can't quite get in my head ("and we danced...all...night" or something). The album doesn't warrant the hate, although I understand the disdain for Ounsworth's vocals, but it is custom-made for it. The opening track is horrendous, the second one is dull, and the album doesn't really take off until the halfway point. If you come into it ready to hate, you'll find grounds for it and be done with the disc before you even get to the good stuff.

So backlash = dislike of hype + slow start to album.

But why the hype to start with? Are the music critics propping this album up just jonesing for David Byrne to be 21 again? (Yeah, you'll get the Byrne/Talking Heads comparison in almost every review you read and while those types of comparisons are generally pretty useless, this one's right on target, at least on CYHSY's poppier numbers.) Everyone seems to be having fun with this disc, but no one's really gotten into what essential need it speaks to.

For more fun and something with a more unique niche to fill, check out Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock 'n' Roll. Hopefully I'll have a full post up on it soon.


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Blogger Ian said...

I'm kind of excited that I haven't listened to the album yet.

1:35 PM  
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