Back in 2005, Brooklyn synth-rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was riding high behind major online buzz for their self-released debut LP, an album that all but defined the term “blog rock.” The hype was so intense that fans were filling venues to capacity to see CYHSY as an opening act, then clearing out before headliners the National took the stage. Now that the National has emerged as one of indie rock’s most popular bands and Clap Your Hands has descended deep into the background of the underground, the story has been retold many times, framed as a tortoise-versus-hare parable about the value of slow, steady perseverance over fleeting hysteria. Regardless of whether that reading of the events is entirely fair, it’s cool to see those bands coming together again almost a decade later, the National using their high profile to shed some new light on their old friends.
National frontman Matt Berninger has contributed vocals to “Coming Down,” the lead single from a new Clap Your Hands album called Only Run — effectively a solo effort by CYHSY frontman Alec Ounsworth, who handled all musical duties. The dark, driving “Coming Down” actually sounds a lot like something the National would have been playing around the time they were on tour with CYHSY, so it’s a perfect context for Berninger’s gravitas-laden low-register ruminations. Matched with Ounsworth’s signature nasal wail, it’s a compelling study in contrast, and it actually makes me pretty curious to hear what else Ounsworth has cooked up for this record. Check out “Coming Down” below.
Only Run is out 6/3 via self-release, just like the good old days.