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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: WXPN's February 2006 Artist to Watch

For a band no one outside of New York had heard before June 2005, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have certainly done well for themselves. Their success is even more impressive when you consider the fact that they aren't signed to a record label,

and, like other recent sensations The Arctic Monkeys from the UK, owe their popularity to word of mouth, internet buzz, and the quality of their music.

Clap Your Hands' music speaks for itself - so much so, in fact, that they don't see the need for a press kit. Go ahead and look, but the closest you'll get is an entry on Wikipedia. This is an anomaly in the music business, but it has certainly had a positive effect on music journalism, especially when reviewers attempt to distill lead singer (and Philadelphia resident) Alec Ounsworth's voice into a short blurb. Here's the most creative one: "a singular vocal presence that sounds like Paul Banks attempting to yodel through Jeff Mangum's throat (" Did you catch those name-drops?

Hipster references aside, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah can be described playing a nostalgic blend of new-wave influenced rock (think Talking Heads, not Enya), with nasally vocals that can alienate some, but which make this band unique and endearing. Their songs feature chugging drumbeats, shoegaze synths, and jangly guitars that are guaranteed to make you dance, or at least consider the possibility.

For independent music fans, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has done everything right. Their name comes from graffiti in Brooklyn (as does the rest of the band); the album starts off with an odd-sounding weeded-out song to ensure that the listener is truly ready to make a commitment; like Arcade Fire, they have celebrity fans (actually, the same celebrity fans as Arcade Fire); and they've turned down record contracts because the labels can't offer them anything they can't do themselves. They are proof that, with good enough music, any band can climb to success. The funny name doesn't hurt, either.


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