Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Make “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Even More Awkward

Mar 5th, 2009 // 12 Comments

On the watching-Bush-speak-level-of-awkward Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, ex-Blogods™ Clap Your Hands Say Yeah debuted a new song, “Statues,” which was immediately available for download in “demo” form right after the performance. The band says, “It’s a song that we might work on some more in the future.” Why debut something unfinished on national TV, even if it is the Jimmy Fallon version of national TV? Although it might be best if this bad boy never makes it out of the workshop because it’s a meandering mess that’s overstuffed with ideas, few of them good. (Much like their second album!)

When “Statues” finally settles down near the end to do something pleasant, the band undersells it. This is an issue on the demo version, which might be one of the least memorable songs I’ve heard lately, but good gosh, is it a problem live. I know it’s au courant to blame the sound guys on TV shows, but this one’s on the band, if you ask me. I’ve got no problem with out-of-tuneness per se, if you sell it. Heckfire, Bill Wyman’s bass is sharp all over Between the Buttons, but that record still rules because the Stones plowed through it. (See also: the Byrds, the Beatles, R.E.M, anybody who ever played a Rickenbacker anything.) But what I heard was not the good kind of out of tune; simply put, a song this ephemeral can’t support it. The organ is shrill, the guitars are extra-special jangly, and the harmonica stinks. Get those guitars intonated!

This is all foundational for a truly execrable vocal performance that might be the long-awaited nadir/death knell of the Cold War Kids School Of Blog-Rock Singing (alumni: CYHSY, Cloud Room, Wolf Parade). It’s dismissive of pitch, inconsistent in tone, and lethargic in performance. I have so many questions. (A few: Did Alec Ounsworth even bother to learn or write lyrics to this song? Did he just make up a melody as the band went along? CYHSY has only been a band for five years; aren’t singers supposed to get better before they get worse? The guy’s what, 31? Too many Parliament Lights?) I like non-traditional singing just fine and have done my fair share of it over the years in karaoke booths, four-track sessions, and even recording studios, but to tie this slurry vocal slush to a moribund half-song like “Statues” is a real travesty.

Rule of thumb: If it’s possible for a bystander to think that Blind Melon’s second album was better at accomplishing what your song sets out to do, then perhaps it’s time for self-reflection.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: “Statues” [You Ain't No Picasso]


  1. blueeyeddevil

    I don’t mind that 2nd BM record.

  2. righteousmaelstrom

    WTF. Was that a medley?

  3. Halfwit

    You shut your mouth about Wolf Parade…

    I will run color guard on the parade that carries the head of the lead singer of Cold War Kids on a pike, though.

    I burned myself out on CYHSY’s album, but actually do play a couple of songs off the second album once in a while.

  4. Lucas Jensen

    @Halfwit: I will keep my thoughts on Wolf Parade to myself except to say that I was unmoved. It’s a style of singing that came to the fore around 2005, though, you would agree?

    I like CYHSY okay, so I’m not trying to diss them outright, just this performance and that singing style. Good God, that singing.

    @blueeyeddevil: Yeah, it’s not a total atrocity like it was portrayed at the time, but I don’t think it’s the direction you want to go in, right?

    @righteousmaelstrom: Thank you.

  5. kicking222

    I really, really liked CYHSY’s first album. The second one was OK- it at least had moments, and “Satan Said Dance” is a great track. But this? Dear god, Alec, you’re only good when you hop in and out of quivering falsetto- see also “Upon This Tidal Wave…” and “Over and Over Again”- and you’re horrible when you stay there for an entire snog. The instrumentation on this song was fine (nothing to write home about, but definitely adequate), yet the song was completely killed by those godawful vocals.

  6. Weezy F Baby

    Another Lucas Jensen article where he references being a musician himself. It’s getting mad tiresome, bro.

  7. Tauwan


    Neither do I. At Mt. Zoomer on the other hand? Sorry, but you are no Apologies to Queen Mary.

  8. Lucas Jensen

    @Weezy F Baby: Sorry you see it that way. It’s something I do, and it’s a part of who I am…perhaps even a big part. Plenty of people around here insert their personal lives into their writing, and so I wanted to put something in the article to say that, hey, a lot of us are guilty of doing some bad singing. I don’t want to end up in a glass houses situation, so it was more of a disclosure than anything. I have experience as a former publicist and as a not-so-successful musician that I feel is sometimes relevant to the stuff I’m writing. Maybe it ain’t. Our experiences inform what we do and how we perceive events.

    I’ll try to be cognizant of it in the future, but I wasn’t doing this (or other mentions) out of self-promotion.

  9. Bob Loblaw

    @Weezy F Baby: It’s getting mad tiresome, bro.

    Like the never funny, pseudo-insider, only occasionally on-point, angrybro commenting schtick? Say something amusing or piss off. Bro.

  10. Anonymous

    I thought the second record was pretty forgettable (and I haven’t touched the first in ages), but have found them to be much much better on record than live. Live, they stink.

    @Bob Loblaw: I hope this was amusing.

  11. Bob Loblaw

    @Thesemodernsocks: Heh. You’re helped by the fact that I couldn’t agree with you more. Low energy, mushy sound, terrible singer hidden beneath a bad mix. (Also, I don’t mind earnest comments at all, just persistently unfunny dicks.)

  12. science vs romance

    OK, this is bad, but nowhere near as trainwrecky as I thought it was going to be. the unfinishedness seems to fit with fallon’s “embrace nerdtech novelty” angle, and as others have said vocals have never been cyhsy’s strong suit.

    oh, and leave Wolf Parade out of this.

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