Photograph by Michael Regan

Photograph by Michael Regan

While Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has been on hiatus, frontman Alec Ounsworth has remained busy, releasing two albums this year. The first is Skin and Bones, released under the moniker Flashy Python. The second, released under his own name, is Mo Beauty. Given small gap between release dates and the fact the track ‘Obscene Queen Bee’ makes an appearance on both albums, it’s difficult to talk about one without mentioning the other.

Flashy Python emerged out of the blue, released without publicity and distributed by email only to the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah mailing list. Performed by Ounsworth and members of Man Man, the Walkmen and Dr. Dog, Skin and Bones steers fairly close to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s aesthetic, with a slightly grander scope. Perhaps due to the spontaneity, it feels messy. Like Isaac Brock and Jeff Mangum, Ounsworth’s voice is extremely polarizing, so how much you enjoy these releases is directly proportional to how much of his voice you can take. Much of Skin and Bones features Ounsworth at his screechiest, and as such can be a bit of an ordeal to listen to. If you can bypass the voice, there are some solid tracks to be found here, particularly ‘The Lady Is a Ghost’ and the title track.

Ounsworth’s solo debut fares far better. Recorded in New Orleans, Mo Beauty has a beautiful atmosphere throughout the record, no doubt influenced by his Louisianan surroundings. Ounsworth’s voice is more precise here, lacking the outright wailing that marked most of Skin and Bones, and the album is better for it. It’s also a departure from the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sound, remaining largely acoustic with blues, folk and jazz influences peppering the album. Although horns make an appearance on Skin and Bones, on Mo Beauty they feel like an organic part of the music rather than an afterthought. The variety here is a major draw. From the metronomic piano of opener ‘Modern Girl (with Scissors)’ to the rollicking guitar ‘Me and You, Watson’, more range and depth is exhibited on Mo Beauty than on any other Ounsworth recording so far. ‘Idiots in the Rain’ is a standout, feeling more like something heard in a jazz club than something coming from an indie icon. ‘Obscene Queen Bee #2’ is an alternate recording of a Flashy Python track that sounds leagues better here with the addition of slide guitar and organ. The production value really does make the difference; while Skin and Bones leans toward a lo-fi sound, the layers of Mo Beauty make for a far more enjoyable listen.

Flashy Python – The Lady Is a Ghost
Alec Ounsworth – Idiots in the Rain
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

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— , December 4, 2009    Comments Off on Alec Ounsworth / Flashy Python

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The leaves are turning green, flowers are blooming and if you live in Toronto the smog is slowly starting to settle in; all signs of spring. With the warmer weather and themes of renewal, growth and romance on the horizon, Ca Va Cool presents a seasonally fitting mixtape. Whether you head outdoors for a weekend escape or you find yourself strolling through the park on a lunch break, take a moment to enjoy the following bands that have clearly nailed the spirit of such a lovely season.

Download | The ‘Under a Cherry Blossom’ Mixtape

Fleet Foxes

01 | Fleet Foxes – Sun It Rises

Fleet Foxes are a five-piece group from Seattle with soothing guitars and mesmerizing vocals. ‘Sun It Rises’ is also the opening track on their acclaimed self-titled album released last June. The variety of carefully plucked acoustic arrangements accompanied by Robin Pecknold’s voice have the ability shake the deepest slumber as Fleet Foxes scoff at hibernation. The band is currently on tour and they’ll be making two stops in Canada – Montréal and Toronto on August 3 and 4, respectively.

air_france

02 | Air France – June Evenings

Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the blissful electronic duo of Henri and Joel produce rhythmic pop music that quickly carries you away. ‘June Evenings’ off their No Way Down EP is analogous to sensory overload from the sounds of birds chirping to imagery of the first rays of sunshine peering through your bedroom curtains. The group is yet to release a full-length album but to their credit, the music they have produced to date is as close as anyone has reached to dream pop perfection. To quote Air France, “Give in, it’s spring”.

Continue reading ‘Under a Cherry Blossom’ mixtape »

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— , May 18, 2009    4 Comments
Mixtape    Yeah!

Yeah

It’s Blitz!, the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album is good. Really good. Easily their best, in my opinion. In fact, good enough to inspire a mix in honour of the word yeah. Yeah is more than just a simple affirmation. Consider it a state of mind. Be like Jim Carrey, say yeah to things. I haven’t seen the movie, but I assume it resulted in good things and had a happy ending. There’s my philosophy for the day. Enjoy.

Download Yeah! The Mixtape Here

01 | Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Dragon Queen
02 | Pavement – Baby Yeah (Live)
03 | Matt and Kim – Yea Yeah
04 | The Flaming Lips – The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
05 | The Golden Dogs – Yeah!
06 | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
07 | The Rapture – Whoo! Alright Yeah…Uh Huh
08 | Brak – Yeah Buddy
09 | Brand New – Sowing Season (Yeah)
10 | LCD Soundsystem – Yeah (Crass Version)

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— , March 12, 2009    9 Comments

The first ever Ca Va Cool mix includes some highlights from the writers’ favourite albums, EPs, and singles of 2007. Pretty representative of what was important this year in indie pop, rock, and dance (indie being a sound, attitude, and aesthetic, rather than commercial means). This was a team effort, and you know what they say about herd mentality: it’s never wrong.

01. Spoon – The Underdog
02. Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have to Leave It
03. Tokyo Police Club – Box
04. The Teenagers – Homecoming
05. The Shins – Australia
06. Radiohead – House of Cards
07. Basia Bulat – I Was a Daughter
08. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
09. The New Pornographers – My Right Versus Yours
10. Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
11. The National – Slow Show
12. Miracle Fortress – Maybe Lately
13. Two Hours Traffic – Stuck for the Summer
14. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
15. Jens Lekman – The Opposite of Hallelujah
16. Handsome Furs – Handsome Furs Hate This City
17. Feist – Past in Present
18. Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
19. Stars – Window Bird
20. The Cribs – Moving Pictures
21. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Satan Said Dance
22. Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
23. Band of Horses – Is There a Ghost
24. Arcade Fire – The Well and the Lighthouse
25. Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song

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— , December 25, 2007    4 Comments