Top 10 of the decade - ninth entry
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (Wichita 2006)
(series growing here)
As end-of-decade listomania increases - look at this horrible Xfm rundown – the subjects gain a veneer of published approval through mainstream re-presentation. Yet I question She’s Hearing Voices’ inclusion as my eighth tune of the decade – there were a lot of contenders in the new wave indie category (as you will see there were in every other when notes on the 10 go live). And certainly enough to warrant the ‘genre’ taking another place. Priding myself on always looking to the dance vanguard for innovation and excitement, every now and ressentiment piques that modernist urge as the schmindie impasse rears its retro head.
But ‘indie’ was now a devalued term and the whites-with-guitars marketplace was thankfully a much more diversified sector than it was in the 90s. The ninth place goes to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood. Based in New York, they seemed to emerge in the wake of Arcade Fire and a few other Canadian collectives like Broken Social Scene who played with a folky passion but laced it with a knowing humour (one song is called ‘The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth’), as slightly fraggly, free-spirited trend-duckers (don’t they all?). They had already been favourably reviewed in the US blogosphere and Pitchfork in 2004/2005. In typical style I sat on the self-titled (and originally self-released) debut album for ages. It was another of those my then music industry employed partner had brought home assuring it was regarded as the next big thing (it had been picked up by that avowed arbiter of taste Wichita), to which the usual response is a huge yawn. So I think it was discovered during one of Tommy and I’s derangathons back at his Chelsea flat (never his flat), probably in 2006. In further typical style, the album’s ok but I only really feel this one.
This type of music takes me into a late 80s/early 90s electronics-free earthy indie netherworld (long band name and song title only emphasising that): tight but fast drumming on loose snares and toms, acoustic guitars there to add to rhythmic impetus. But crucially it’s all topped up by much slower and ’scapey electric guitars over the top, thus the verses achieve what many others try but fail by uniting two emotive planes – danceable euphoria and guitar-led blissout. Honestly, it does for me. Flick through the embed here to see what you think (it's the last tune on the album).
Lyrically the song seems to be ambivalent about the youth’s inevitable, libertarian lunge into hedonism but whatever didactic lessons are intended for our ‘child stars’ are probably undermined when set in the frame of such an exciting song that makes you want to cut loose. So while the sentiment may not necessarily suggest it, the whole product cannot help but engender joy in the listener as it builds to an impassioned finale around the four minute-mark.
Probably my most traditional selection and, in the context of being wowed by it just at the time the responsibility of parenthood kicked in, certainly the one most evocative of a youthful freedom. It was no longer valid to place so much weight on the latest wave of beats as clubs were out and anything that could thrill in my domestic confines was in. But I hope it enjoyed heavy and much loved rotation in the nation’s indie discos.