Sold out: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah “Some Loud Thunder” 10th Anniversary Tour – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – February 13th, 2018

Sold out: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Some Loud Thunder" 10th Anniversary Tour

Alec Ounsworth's influential band hits the road to celebrate its landmark 2007 sophomore album

Sold Out: Sold out: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Some Loud Thunder" 10th Anniversary Tour

Steady Holiday

Tue, February 13, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$20 ADV/DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seating

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Like previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah records, The Tourist nods to Ounsworth’s musical heroes—a group that includes artists such as John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. However, this album also shows a natural progression from previous records. “Better Off” and “The Vanity Of Trying” are lush, keyboard-augmented songs, while “A Chance To Cure” and “Ambulance Chaser” are rhythmically askew, and the sighing “Loose Ends” is delicate, acoustic-based folk-rock.

The Tourist emerged from a period where Ounsworth was doing a lot of intense soul-searching, and processing personal events that irrevocably shaped his life and future. But although most of these songs came together during this time of reflection, he considers the record to be cathartic—an exhale of sorts, rather than a collection of songs where he was indulging in self-pity or letting things stagnate or fester.

Appropriately, The Tourist’s lyrics reflect how complex upheaval can be (“We can beat around this bush together/Sometimes it’s all I think of/Other times I can forget”) and explore the imperfect nature of blame (“The car left the road and was found without its mirrors/You play the victim/And I’ll play the blind man”). Other songs try to make sense of the present time (“Now that the past is on fire/How can I look around and find I can’t remember who I was”) or employ clever wordplay— “Black cat let’s not split hairs/I’m tethered to the weather/I assure I don’t care about no lucky streak”—for effect.

Ounsworth spent about a week recording The Tourist at Dr. Dog’s Philadelphia-based studio with a drummer and bassist. After that, he and engineer Nick Krill spent a few months “tidying things up” and recording additional embellishments: backup vocals, keyboards, guitars and more percussion. That gives The Tourist more of a band feel than the last album, and contributes to why the record possesses a musical lightness. The dreamy opening track “The Pilot” especially has a lilting edge, courtesy of Smiths-reminiscent acoustic guitars strums and Ounsworth’s hiccupping, conspiratorial vocals.

The Tourist was then mixed by Dave Fridmann, who also worked on two previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah albums, 2007’s Some Loud Thunder and 2014’s Only Run. Ounsworth says he and Fridmann are on the same musical wavelength, which makes their long-time working relationship an anchor of sorts. “Dave and I don’t necessarily stick with what’s easiest which is fine and anxiety-inducing, in a good way,” he says. “He challenges me to do something a little bit different.”

“I am a relatively solitary person and seem to work best alone,” he says. “I do count on others to help the project as the process of making and releasing an album moves forward, but if it doesn’t match what I have in mind, it’s hard for me to really be there for it. I guess this is one reason why the project has been independent all this time. Trust me, I understand that thinking this way is both an asset and a liability.”

However, this stubborn independence also reflects Ounsworth’s commitment to musical integrity. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s career arc is all about building on previous successes while staying true to a core artistic vision. And although The Tourist may have emerged from challenging times, it reflects Ounsworth’s uncanny ability to move forward, no matter what the circumstances.

“I’d rather not say that it was a dark time, but it was a difficult time in my life—among the most difficult,” he says. “But I needed and need to try to let it go. And this is how I let things go. Though it’s the same for any album—this one probably more than the others.

“But I have to try to do something each time that’s new and engaging for me,” he adds. “I mean, I could very well just write songs the way they were early on. But I don’t think that people would appreciate listening to someone just going through the motions. We have to build something to last, rather than just build it because it looks good at the moment.”
Steady Holiday
Steady Holiday
Steady H​oliday is an appropriate name for an artist whose music feels like the soundtrack to your fondest memory. Or your deepest heartbreak. Or the dream sequence from a David Lynch film. There’s a nostalgia present in Dre Babinski’s songwriting that leaves you longing for the familiarity of a bygone era - just not one you can necessarily pin down.

After years growing up playing in bands around Los Angeles, Dre recently began writing and recording for herself - on her own, in secret, developing a body of work about hidden desire itself. Establishing a sound defined by her featherlight voice floating above sweeping strings, her 2016 debut ​Under​ the Influence led to opening for artists like Mitski, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and C​lap Your​ Hands Say Yeah.

Whereas the first record took us on a trip through the deeply personal, Dre’s sophomore album ​Nob​ody’s Watching zooms​ way out. What​ began as a concept record about two archetypal crooks developed into an exploration of universal themes like greed, fear and self-interest; the ugly and troubling edges of human nature. It’s a good time for that.

“I’ve been just as affected by our current politics as anyone, but it only takes one step back to realize these same figures have been present since the beginning of civilization. This record is sort of an anthropological way of unpacking all this discomfort for me.”

The narrative is most identifiable on album standout “Who’s Gonna Stop Us”, which creeps and charms like the characters it describes, as they set about turning trust into money. “Let’s teach them how to build a pyramid / Tell them if they keep it up, they can reach the top.“ However, judgement is reserved even for them, as hinted in the song’s bridge: “I used to try to be decent and kind / But time after time I would get eaten alive.”

Dre worked with producer Gus Seyffert (Roger Waters, Beck) to create a sound​ ​that echoes the narrative t​ old on​ Nobody’s Watching. From the sunny and observant to the dark and critical, the tone ranges from levity to paranoia through layers of analog synths and chilling strings played by Dre herself. There are moments of cinematic intensity reminiscent of a James Bond score, yet the subtle tape hiss and creaking chairs remind us that this is an album made by people​.​ It is warm and it breathes, in the way the human touch can both soothe and suffocate.

Nobody’s Watching is the natural next step for Dre and Steady Holiday, a project that builds worlds we wish to escape to or from. It’s an examination of the inner narratives we all share but keep in the shadows, where the characters may not always be likable, but they do what they can to survive - like we all do.