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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This album is brilliant. Yea, the sound is a little distorted/weird on the first song, but don't let that stop you--it's like listening to a far away radio station late at night. But other than that one song--which is actually a great song-- the sound is OK. These guys are brilliant. Don't shy away from this CD.
Published on May 5, 2007 by Steve

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2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better
Like most of the complaints here, mine centers around the production of the album. Some of the best tracks are absolutely ruined by distortion. And, not the cool kinda distortion you might find on a Neil Young album... but the kind that is just grinds on you more with every listen.

Otherwise good tracks like like Some Loud Thunder, Emily Jean Stock and Arm &...
Published on April 20, 2007 by This Guy


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2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better, April 20, 2007
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This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
Like most of the complaints here, mine centers around the production of the album. Some of the best tracks are absolutely ruined by distortion. And, not the cool kinda distortion you might find on a Neil Young album... but the kind that is just grinds on you more with every listen.

Otherwise good tracks like like Some Loud Thunder, Emily Jean Stock and Arm & Hammer are vitually unlistenable because of the production of them. <sigh> Personally, I'm not a fan of the Flaming Lips-esque bleeps & blips that are scattered through "Satan Said Dance" either. But maybe you are.

On the upside, The album finishes strong with the last 3 tracks. "Yankee Go Home" & "Underwater (You & Me)" and the haunting "Five Easy Pieces". They showcase what the band is capable of.

If not for the (assuming intentional) lousy production, we'd have a pretty good album on our hands here.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars growing pains, February 20, 2007
By 
Sage Turk (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
Let me begin by saying that I love clap your hands say yeah. I traveled to switzerland last summer just to hear them live at the Montreux Jazz Festival... and they were everything I had hoped they would be. Wild, almost unhinged vocals, compliments of Alec Ounsworth, random sounds and spastic flourishes flying all over the place...it was great.

Except for one part.

The band sort of calmed down and began a piece that was slow and seemed very... rough. I assumed they were just fiddling around. Plunking at strings there. A few drum beats there. Lines that seemed almost made up as they went. It meandered around and then they just seemed to give up. The crowd wasn't going nuts like they had been doing for almost an hour solid. Alec looked at the drummer who seemed to shrug. Then they launched into "Skin of my yellow country teeth" and the crowd went wild. The band went wild. It was a strange moment that I had assumed was just a fluke, live show sort of thing. Imagine my surprise when I learned that moment had a name.

"Arm and Hammer"

Yes, listening to CYHSY I was shocked to hear the very song that had grinded the band (and audience) to a halt was included on this album. Which helps me to understand why this album doesn't need 5 stars..or even seem to want it.

I came to love CYHSY in, i would assume, the same way almost everyone did. You listened the first time with one eyebrow cocked. You felt there was something there. So you listened more. The music, the energy, it all began to gestate and you grew attached...it was as if the energy expended to find and love this album made it specifically yours. like it was little genius child you grew protective of it, even combative for it. You knew you had something odd and special and smart and you loved it.

But, like all children, this one grew. And, like most genius kids, grew thinking it was a little more mature, a little more saavy, than it really was. The childlike imagination that had meshed so well with the brilliance was giving way to a feeling of self importance and ability. Basically, this precocious, intelligent child was developing into one of those brainy preteens who thinks they know everything and that whatever they do is above average. Let's face it...no one likes those type of people except us...their surrogate parents (who, lets face, are probably a little blind to the warts and flaws).

So the good news is that Clap your hands really is smart. They really are talented (wildly so). They really do make good music. They just need to grow into the new phase of their existence. Not every song is great on this album. Maybe half is the brilliance of their previous effort. But it'll evolve. Soon they'll be genius adults, who can look back on the imagination that made their first album great, and combine it with all the real world experience they're obtaining. When that happens, it'll blow minds. It'll be as meaningful as it is innovative.

Until that happens (and it will) I'll just keep smiling as the awkward teenage phase plays itself out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, May 5, 2007
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This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
This album is brilliant. Yea, the sound is a little distorted/weird on the first song, but don't let that stop you--it's like listening to a far away radio station late at night. But other than that one song--which is actually a great song-- the sound is OK. These guys are brilliant. Don't shy away from this CD.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loudly, January 31, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah debuted with winning, chirrupy melodies that were catchy and easy to recall.

Be warned: Now they are serious, and their music reflects that. Their sophomore album "Some Loud Thunder" is a massive departure musically, to the point where Clap Your Hands Say Yeah only sometimes sound like the same band -- full of distorted rippling guitar and mellotron.

They open with the fuzzed-out, clattery title track, with jangly guitars and loads of distortion. "All this talking/You'd think I'd have something to say/But I'm just talking/Like a siren getting louder and farther away," Alec Ounsworth yowls over the appropriately thunderous tune.

The change in their sound comes in after the second song, with trembling indie-rockers, ominous piano tunes full of dark atmosphere, sputtery trickly headtrips, slow-moving accordion songs, fragmented guitarpop, and rippling cycles of soft guitar and gentle bells.

There are a couple songs that harken back to their old sound -- the marching, dreamlike "Underwater (You and Me)," and the disorienting "Emily Jean Stock," which is basically a twee ballad riddled with bursts of ominous bass and percussion. It's just too confusing.

"Some Loud Thunder" is actually quite an enjoyable album, for the most part. The new, eerier sound is sure to be controversial, but the darker, more complex, less catchy sound is quite entrancing. At times it's confusing, but you can sort a twining melody out of the fuzz, mad piano and scratchy synth.

In fact, given listens and an open mind, these twirling melodies of jangly, circular guitar, murky piano, bells, mellotron, distorted synth and heavy fuzz become rather charming. It's a more mature, intricate sound, sort of like Mercury Rev having a bad dream about an evil circus. They've lost that sunny sweetness, and have gained a weirder indierock sound often associated with bands like the Fiery Furnaces.

But it also has some drawbacks -- the more acoustic-guitar/bass heavy songs are awkward and uncertain, and the charming "Emily Jean Stock" is marred by some droning bass that actually drowns Ounsworth out completely. It sounds like they're struggling to find a sound in these songs.

Ounsworth's yowly voice sounds more or less the same, although he sometimes seems to be fading away into the wash of complex melodies. And the songs have some awkward moments ("My face is green/But my feet are still going if you know what I mean") but far more charming ones ("When you're foreign bound/I am the coin in your pocket...").

Those expecting the catchy, bright charm of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut will definitely be disappointed, but "Some Loud Thunder's" darker, elusive sound is intriguing as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curveball, January 30, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
I'm pretty conflicted about this album, and I think I'm lucky at that; a lot of fans of 'Clap Your Hands'' debut will probably be in a much worse state when confronted with 'Some Loud Thunder'.

When I initially popped in this disc and was struck by the opening title track, I found myself in minor bouts of ecstasy, because the music seemed to channel the same energy and melodic character of the band's first work, albeit swaggering to a slightly less conventional rhythm. It was fast, fun, and my feet became restless before the song ended; the type of music that, like that heard on their self-titled, made me want to dance awkwardly around my room with glee. But then the rest of the album followed...

To me this feels like many bands' work I've heard before, in that it really does sound like `Clap Your Hands' has one upped their previous work regarding better songwriting, but ultimately somewhere in that transition they lost a lot of the charm and personality that their less learned selves possessed. I totally feel that way about this album. By and large, the songs are all -- good --, yes, but they impress rather than excite. They seem to have grown up a bit with the album, but that giddy childlike mentality is almost completely absent.

Another interesting bit about this album is that somehow I think haters of the band's debut will be fonder of `Some Loud Thunder'. Whereas I found their debut charmingly obnoxious, this time around restraint and tact beat out volume and intensity on near every corner. And speed... Most of the songs are much slower in tempo, too, which is pretty disappointing. Such songs, like "Emily Stock Jean", I really do like -- I do -- but they just never rise above temporarily fetching.

Surprisingly, the last fifteen minutes of the album are probably my favorite, aside from the title track and "Satan Said Dance", which initially annoyed me but eventually I began to both love and be in awe of musically. These last moments are simply more enjoyable on a fundamental level, not abandoning the subdued nature the rest of the album provides, but simply providing a simpler drive and direction ("Underwater"). The last song, "Five Easy Pieces", comes out of nowhere, but somehow is a perfect conclusion for the eclectic disc. Probably my favorite song, it almost recalls `Sigur Ros' in its languid pace and sparse instrumentation combined with wailing vocals... It's really a beautiful track, and ends it all on a great note.

Three and a half stars... I still prefer their first album, but this one is not without warrant. Just know going into it that this is a band progressing, for better or worse, and they are not creating the same music they did a few years ago. I don't prefer the results as much as I'd have liked, but this is hardly a step backwards... I'll still await their next album, whenever it comes, with great anticipation and hope.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was waiting for loud thunder, but only got some decent rumbles., March 5, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
There have been few instances within the indie rock subculture where the hipsters and rock snobs have been able to push aside their overwhelming cynicism and grasp the merest glimmer of hope and optimistic thinking in their sad, depressing little world. And if you do some digging into those good times, one quickly realizes that everything revolves around indie rock's oft-decried and regularly-lampooned addiction to proletarian idealism; i.e., "The Man tries to keep `real music' down, but we're the only ones who keep it alive, not matter what radio stations play." For instance, Wilco's rise from the ashes of a corporate beat-down to release their acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 marked a triumph of the music over the machine. And with every album that Radiohead released on Capitol, people stood up to cheer the victory of artistic integrity over the supposed necessity of pushing a single to the radio and indulging in PR campaigns.

But nothing could top the accolades and acclaim the gushed forth out of every possible pore in the indie rock body when the Brooklyn/Philadelphia-based band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) burst onto the scene. Not only did these guys release their self-titled debut album to rave reviews from every credible source imaginable, but they did everything on their own, refusing even to sign to any kind of label, indie or otherwise. Finally, hipsters everywhere had a band that truly comprised the indie rock "Darn The Man!" ethos (hipsters are usually too apathetic to truly "damn" anything) - these guys were accountable to no one but themselves and their music. With the sale of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah skyrocketing primarily through the Internet, the band thumbed its nose at the music machine and made great music at the same time.

So, when news surrounding the release of their second album, entitled Some Loud Thunder, began leaking out, people obviously began to wonder what might happen to CYHSY. Would the album be worth anything? Would the band do it all over again? What was going on?!? The last thing indie rock needed was for its poster band for true independence to release an album that sucked or, even worse, actually sign to a label, indie or otherwise.

Well, rest easy all of you skinny, unwashed, messenger bag-carrying masses - Some Loud Thunder is a quality album that's filled with better songs and greater focus than the debut. Relying less on the uniqueness of singer Alec Ounsworth's vocal stylings and with the novelty of going completely DIY wearing off, the five men of CYHSY have simply created a well-crafted pop album. The strength of this record is the songwriting - there are quirky love songs like "Underwater (You and Me)" and "Emily Jean Stock," a song about demanding dancing demons ("Satan Said Dance"), and another written about people who don't enjoy the ubiquitous presence of tourists ("Yankee Go Home"). Moreover, each track pulses with an intensity and depth that is equal parts challenging and accessible - these are talented musicians who are making music that they truly seem to enjoy.

Granted, things can get a little off-kilter on occasion as there are times when it seems that the band is trying a bit too hard to be intentionally "out there.? The scratchy vocal/recording technique employed on the album's title track makes it hard to grasp a hold of how that song and potentially other songs might progress. (Note to CYHSY - Don't make the first song of the album a warbly, low-fi mess because people might stop listening before they get to the good stuff.) And then there are songs that just fall a bit flat and seem uninspired or (again) too obtuse - "Arm And Hammer" and "Goodbye to Mother and the Cove" stand out as the best examples. (Note #2 to CYHSY - I get that you want to defy conventions with your approach and style, and while I'm all for it, you'd think that you'd want to make sure that people will actually want to listen to your music. You can't perpetually rely on indie rock kids to always buy everything just because Pitchfork might recommend it.)

What makes this album worth purchasing? Besides the fact that people should support independent musicians and bands by actually purchasing (as in, not stealing) their music, great tracks and quality music drive this album. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have moved beyond selling their records based upon reputation as an indie rock fairy tale. This is a band that's worth something, constantly touring without a multi-million dollar PR machine driving the pimped-out tour bus. True, the hipster blogosphere might have purchased the used and dirty 15-passenger van for the band, but the band is the one driving and providing the fuel for where they're going. So, in case some of you rock snobs weren't sure about CYHSY and were still maintaining your jaded distance, bandwagon jumping is encouraged.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Proof of concept, if nothing else, March 16, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
This album isn't nearly as tight, nor as catchy and exciting as their first. But what it lacks in pop appeal, it more than makes up for in raw inventiveness and the exploration of a sure and steady hand.

Their debut was, for me, one of the landmark albums of the last few years. Musically adventurous and daring, but also grounded in solid pop appeal and a raw, sublime sense of artistry.

That this album doesn't in the least bit disappoint is a testament to the artistic competence of the band. What they're doing is exciting and innovative and for the sake of the state of music, I hope they keep it up.

Excitement and innovation, though, by itself, isn't worth much. But when it's paired with startling amounts of pure talent, as it is here, it's truly worthwhile.

If this is a sophomore effort, then I hope these guys get held back a grade. I can't wait to see what they do next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars underwhelmed, March 21, 2007
By 
Mashmal (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
I listened to their first album over and over again the summer it came out. This one I've listened to twice. I forgot I had it until Amazon asked me to review. It's like this new one is just completely void of the emotional punch that the first one had. Here's to hoping it's just a sophomore slump.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Album, January 30, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
I knew from the sample download tracks available on their website (which ironically I think are the most enjoyable on the album) that the sound of this album was going to be different from the first, and it certainly is. Apart from the vocals there is little obvious connection, it sounds more like a conceptual art album - some tracks sort of just doodle along with nothing much happening in them. While it may be lauded critically for this, the things that were enjoyable about the first are missing here: its manic energy, the freshness of the vocals, and the fun - it's a fun album you can sing along with. These absences don't make 'Some Loud Thunder' a bad album, it _is_ a good album, just not a great, or brilliant one, and it certainly won't be the album that people will recommend to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah newcomers. Strangely I also find Alec Ounsworth's vocals somewhat annoying in parts on this one.

I won't speculate on the decision to move in this direction, and they may decide to move back to toward the sound of their first album at a later date. However despite their first album being one of my favorite albums of last year (I insisted that all my friends listened to it), I won't be blindly buying anything else they release without listening to the samples first.

If you're new to CYHSY, buy their first album.

If you loved their first album, listen to some samples before you buy to avoid later disappointment.

If you just want to support the band, because you loved their first album and they release their stuff independently then go for it, just be prepared for a very different album.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A step back., May 15, 2007
This review is from: Some Loud Thunder (Audio CD)
Now that I've listened to this album a few more times I'd probably put it on par with the first one. I didn't like it much at first but after a few listens it really grew on me. I still hate the distortion and random noise that are present in a few of the songs but aside from that it's all good. Definitely sounds different than the first album, which is probably why I didn't like it initially, but it's still amazing nonetheless. I know it says 3 stars but if I could change to it 5 I would. Here's my original comments on the album:

If their first album earns a five star rating, and I think it does, then this second effort is nothing more than a three. It's not terrible, but it's simply not as good as their first album. The distortion sounds like absolute crap. I don't care if it was an artistic choice or whatever, the fact remains that it makes the song hard to listen to. It's noise not music. Then just when you get into the second song and think perhaps it was just a bunch of dicking around on the opening track they throw a bunch of noise into the instrumental portions of the song between the verses. It sounds like someone just randomly banging on a drum(and I'm sure that's exactly what it is). How they listened to this and thought it sounded good is beyond me.

But it's not all bad. Thankfully they didn't mess up the entire album with terrible "artistic choices". There's some good stuff on the album and anybody that was a fan of the first should find something to like here as well. Definitely pick it up if your a fan but don't expect to like it as much as the first album because you won't. It's just not as good.
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Some Loud Thunder
Some Loud Thunder by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Audio CD - 2007)
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