If you like catch-all genre tags, Clap Your Hands…

By Derek Wright

Like “alternative” and “emo” before it, the term “indie” has morphed into a catch-all for all less-than-easily classified artists. Anything without a clear Top 40 audience or defined section in Virgin Megastores gets stamped with the genre broad enough to include, well, everything.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is an “indie” act in the most literal sense – both of the band’s records have been distributed without the aid of a conventional label. Aside from this nugget of legitimacy, the band’s sophomore LP epitomizes all of the genre’s traditional trappings in this post-Strokes, post-Modest Mouse 2007.

“Some Loud Thunder” is catchy, but not catchy enough to get stuck in heads or cause steering-wheel drumming. It’s lo-fi, but the fidelity comes just as an afterthought. It’s moody, but not enough to represent any demeanor beyond the New York quintet’s.

It is essentially the ultimate “indie” album – almost indefinable. Listening to “Some Loud Thunder” is like drinking a glass of lukewarm tap water – it’s hard to notice any of its characteristics without making a conscious effort.

Aside from the opening title track, in which producer Dave Friddman’s signature fuzzy distortion makes the track almost painful to sit through, the remaining 10 songs switch from danceable electronics (“Satan Said Dance”) to spacey folk numbers (“Emily Jean Stock”), long-reaching theatrics (“Five Easy Pieces”) and droning ambiance (“Love Song No.7”).

The problem with CYHSY is that there are too many bands doing the same thing, but better and more consistently. This means its lasting impression – aside from bloggers’ hype – might be the act’s cumbersome name, that no matter how many times it’s uttered, still sounds like it needs an “and” placed in the middle.

And if your clunky moniker deserves as much attention as your music, that’s never a good thing. Just ask … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.