Spurting out of America in 2005, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (recognised as CYHSY) released their first self-titled debut album and ignited a cult following that would spur them onto making their 2007 album “Some Loud Thunder” and the 2011 “Hysterical”. Whilst this specific track appears to be the most well constructed both lyrically and instrumentally, their well known piece “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” became the distinct ‘indie-anthem’ of the 2000′s. Despite global sensations like David Bowie and David Byrne from ‘Talking Heads’ attending their shows, and reaching a national audience on well-known shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, CYHSY found quite a disparity amongst their mainstream audience. Often this has been blamed on the vocalist Alec Ounsworth’s often indiscernible lyrics and singing style, yet humorously Ounsworth’s mannerisms are the very reason so many of CYHSY’s die-hard fans adore them.
CYHSY don’t splurge out a simple catchy riff though (even though they do it well), as their lyrics are often quite reflective of societal issues and stereotypes that many artists attempt to hone in on. Regarding the ridiculed kids “with their sex, and their drugs” in this track, they ask America to “please help them”, to try and wane this tidal wave of “young blood”. Obvious? Perhaps. Yet CYHSY deliver a message with a passion and vigour; one easily found in their structured-yet-vibrant guitar and Ounsworth’s wavering, wailing emotive voice.
The diversity between their own self-made tracks is strong enough to keep any listener coming back time and time again, at least I know I do. Their drone-song “Gimme Some Salt” completely differs from a track like “Sunshine and Clouds (And Everything Proud), a purely instrumental track consisting of old-style miniature piano and simple percussion. It takes peculiar people to make something unique and contrastive to current-day music; and while gaining a cult following on the way, CYHSY have managed to do that. Hopefully they will for years to come.
Think an intergration of ‘Two Door Cinema Club’, ‘Foals’ and ‘Bloc Party’ and you find yourself looking at the mutation of a fantastic up-and-coming indie band from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; Edelweiss. Listening throughout their September 13th, 2011 debut-album ‘Pre-Columbians’, immediately you’re listening to swiftly and harmoniously picked guitar that reverberates through this track ‘Icarus’, yet also varying from its serenity in ‘A Song From Pennsylvania’ to its energy in ‘Fiasco’. On face-value, it would appear Edelweiss follows a pretty formulaic ‘indieband’ construct; fast-paced ‘pump-up’ guitar with poppy bass-lines with an almost lethargic sounding voice covering it all. Yet when you listen to Edelweiss closely you come to realise the intricate nature and effort they’ve put into each track. Each boy in the 5-piece Edelweiss are obviously talented; Coby Polier & Jupiter Cashman’s drums give the band a solid foundation to work upon, especially in their track ‘(NO)’, where when listened to carefully can reveal themselves as quite complex and profound.
Ridiculously, the average age of this indie-rock band is only 16; truly reflecting the potential of this band still to come. Whether intentional or not, Edelweiss encompass the keyboard and rhythm of ‘Two Door Cinema Club’, the crisp-picked guitar of ‘Foals’ and the vocal temperament of ‘Bloc Party’, intimating at their future ability to draw a widely-diverse audience. It seems the disparity between Edelweiss and most up-coming independent artists is their ability to remain passionate and energetic about their progress and attitude towards the business; obviously which reflects in the vibrancy of their tracks. Edelweiss are already touring public hot-spots like New York; where if you’re keen you can easily go see them at Mercury Lounge on the 10th of February.
If his name doesn’t trigger any recognition, most people will know this beautiful French musician from his self-written soundtrack for the 2001 film “Amelie”. Yet Tiersen is in no way a simple soundtrack producer; despite his critical acclaim for the aforementioned and the 2003 film“Goodbye Lenin!” and “Tabarly” in 2008. Yann Tiersen masterfully adopts various instruments as if extensions of himself; having created many studio albums primarily with violin, accordion and piano which he learnt as a child, whilst using them in occasional conjunction with toy piano, melodica, harpsichord, guitar and xylophone. This track ‘Le Banquet’ comes from his first ever published studio album in 1995, “Le Valse des Monstres”, containing compositions (such as “Le Valse des Monstres” itself) that would later be injected into films that would grant him national notoriety.
Being a man of such instrumental diversity, Tiersen has left a distinct mark on minimalist scene in France during the 90′s and 00′s. Tracks like “Le Valse de Amelie” and “Comptine d’été no. 3″ have become widely recognisable, especially amongst pianists for their enjoyment to learn and play. When interviewed and questioned in Copenhagen on what inspires him; Tiersen answered that he has “no inspiration”, but rather “to know music is to know something quite abstract”, and to express this is to “forget all clichés and habits” and to merely channel emotion through his music. He remarks on how his skills as a child being forced to learn violin and piano have indeed supplemented his musical expression, yet Tiersen states how it was essential to his work. “You have to find a balance” he warns, a balance between skill and honest construction; as talent can “help you to be free” although can “turn you into something bad”.
From his 2002 album ’18′, the now 47-year-old ‘Moby’ incorporates the vocals of several gospel and blues singers to create these uniquely emotive tracks throughout this album; my favourite easily being this or “The Rafters”. Moby emerged onto the electronic dance music scene during the early 90′s, finding small success with ‘Ambient’ and ‘Everything Is Wrong’, yet it wasn’t until his 1999 release of “Play” that he found international recognition; with the album eventually selling over 10 million copies. His musical taste varies, as with his obvious ease with a multitude of instruments allows him too; varying from electronic/standard drum beats, acoustic/electronic guitar, piano, keyboard, samplers, orchestral accompaniments and entire variations of sound altering and distortion. “Shot in the Back of the Head” from the 2009 “Wait for Me” album completely varies to tracks like the techno “Protect Write” or the blues-soaked “Find My Baby”.
Talking to ‘FaceCulture’, Moby speaks of how his first exposure to music started as early as 10 years old, when he learnt classical guitar off his teacher. He speaks of his teacher’s “love of intricate music”, and how in a way this influenced him despite his divergence into punk rock in his teens. “It’s my musical theory” he states that allows him to have a basis of understanding across any genre that he might be experimenting in. Making “one or two hundred songs a year”, Moby spends an immense amount of his life being engrossed by his music; making most of it in morning’s small hours as a result of being a chronic insomniac. In addition to making his own music, Moby invests his time as member of the board of directors for ‘The Institute for Music and Neurological Funtion’; researched focused on the healing properties of music and it’s ability to promote ‘Neurogenesis’ (the production of new brain cells).
Moby is a distinct artist and isn’t loved in a mainstream way; to him Moby states people’s reason to be that “people love to hate something” and simply that “that’s the nature of the industry”. As a result of Moby’s opinionated personality, he’s inevitably clashed with journalists and other artists alike; most notably Eminem. Calling him a “misogynist, a homophobe, a racist, and an anti-Semite” at the Grammy’s, Eminem retailiated with a line at the end of his song “Without Me”, stating “You thirty six year old bald headed fag, blow me”. The nature of the industry.