Monday, August 29, 2011

Yellow Ostrich

We survived the hurricane...actually, it was just a really nasty, wet day yesterday, no flooding or big branches down, no loss of power, at least not here. (And we lose power all the time, sometimes for no evident reason.)

Meanwhile, Blurt ran my review of Yellow Ostrich's debut The Mistress on Friday.

Yellow Ostrich
The Mistress

n "WHALE," Alex Schaaf's reedy tenor weaves up and around itself, layered in harmonies, offset by intricate counterparts, punctuated by raucous, celebratory bursts of percussion and offhand scribbles of guitar. The best moments of The Mistress, "WHALE" included, are like this - driven by complicated, multiply-overdubbed melodies that are both home-tape rough and baroquely ornate.

Schaaf is a native of Wisconsin currently residing in Brooklyn, who wrote and arranged the songs for this debut album in his bedroom. More recently, though, he's augmented his Yellow Ostrich project with Fool's Gold percussionist (and ex-We Are Scientists' drummer) Michael Tapper, and Beirut multi-instrumentalist John Natchez. Actually, Beirut is a decent reference point for Schaaf's creaky yet evocative vocal style, and when he breaks free of the elaborate arrangements, he sounds like a happier, less ethnically curious Zach Condon. Still, as a pure indie pop singer, as for instance in the laid-back "I'll Run", there's nothing very remarkable about Schaaf. It's only in the album's busiest, most multi-layered arrangements that his songs take off.



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