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ISSUE 119 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/30/2005

Under the radar: Fall indie record reviews

By Peter Farrell
Executive Editor
and Ian Anderson
Executive Editor

Friday, September 30, 2005

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are no longer Brooklyn's best kept secret. Red-hot raves from Pitchfork and Matthew Perpetua, the founder of the influential fluxblog, have propelled the group to the margins of the mainstream. Their self-recorded, self-released and self-titled debut album is flying off the shelves so fast that the band can no longer keep pace with the demand.

It's about time that the City Pages-dubbed Best New Band of 2003 put out a full-length record. Just when you think the dance-rock craze is on the way out, the new Revolver Modele album re-inspires energy and authenticity in the upbeat movement.

Revolver Modele waited for just the right moment to release Discotheque Crypt, but the final product is well worth the delay. Produced by Brad Kern and released on Estate Sale Records, it certainly exceeds many people's already lofty expectations.

Exuding pure, unadulterated testosterone with his low, dark vibrato, bassist and lead vocalist Ehsan Alam is intoxicating. The lyrics are bold and provocative, with lines like, "Well maybe I was a play-thing, fabricated in delusions, but the consciousness is a crime in this chemical illusion." Alam's reverb-drenched vocals couldn't be more seductive, adding a sexy décor to the already gloomy guitar work of Mykal Arnold.

Arnold's open-stringed, jangle-y guitar hovers off in the distance as if his lines belong on a Joy Division or early Doors record. He cuts loose only a handful of times on the record, but shows off what he is really capable of both creatively and technically with his sharp, precise guitar lines. Alam's rumbling, Stooges-like bass lines keep the record steady throughout while rhythm section Jesse Winsell and Natasha Hassett keep up the dance-beats, never tiring.

The dark bass and drums combination will undoubtedly lead to comparisons to gloom-rock contemporaries Interpol, but Revolver Modele may actually be the sassier of the two - which is indeed something to be proud of.

The record has a distinct feel reminiscent of the current New York scene, but as the record develops, so does its overcast feel. Discotheque Crypt seperates itself from indie-rock mainstream and makes itself accessible to any Midwesterner preparing for a long winter.

Fortunately, the hype this time around is well deserved. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a magnificent slice of pure indie-pop heaven.

Beginning with the raucous carnival stomp of "Clap Your Hands," the record quickly melts into a potent mixture of warm, reverb-laden guitars, gentle synthesizers and driving drums. Each track recalls the band's immediate influences - Talking Heads, Pixies and a little Bowie - without feeling like the band aped their forebears' back catalog.

Pop gems like "The Skin of My Country Yellow Teeth," "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" and "Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)" are unique takes on the same basic song structure that has pushed rock music to the forefront of popular culture for the past 50 years. The melodies are vaguely familiar, but distant from memory; the band makes old feel new again, and new feel old. Even the structure of the album has a classic feel.

Remarkably consistent from front to back, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is the type of album that was meant to be an album, not a collection of singles. Without the bounce of "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away" or "Is This Love," the melancholy "Details of the War" would never have the same effect. Remove one piece of the puzzle and it all falls apart.

Nothing revolutionary is happening here, but what is happening is so good, so solid and so basic that the record feels culturally relevant rather than tired or rehashed. It is a warm reminder of how music is always an evolving tradition of sounds. Sure, the vocals evoke David Byrne at his most paranoid and passionate but the timbre to lead singer Alec Ounsworth's voice resonates differently.

This is a record framed in the pop of the past but written decidedly in the now.

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