Yellow Ostrich’s sophomore album releases today and I’ve got to say I’m extremely impressed with the effort on Strange Land. The difference between Alex Schaaf’s early work when he was a cut and paste artist and now where Yellow Ostrich is, as a 3-piece with a lot of power behind their music is quite a huge gap. This new album features expanded roles in Tapper’s polyrhthmic drumming, and Natchez’ near symphonic addition of horn arrangements and additionally filling out the sound with his bass guitar.
Strange Land begins with the wonderfully summery, breezy track “Elephant King,” a statement song that is anthemic in nature and a great way to start off the album. Leading itself to “Daughter,” my favorite track from the album, a jangly, power-pop / rock track with a really interesting percussion section that seems to layer tons of different sounds atop each other. From there the first single, “Marathon Runner,” with pounding drums, moody guitar riffs another anthemic, hammering,track you’ll be consistently turning louder and louder as the song reaches its climactic, critical mass feel. From there on the album goes through a few waves between moody tracks and more of the anthemic wild eyed feel. Those moody, quieter almost crooning songs, implement Schaaf’s vocals quite a bit more and minimally the sounds tend to sit through the background as the song moves into climax, and they really get powerful.
The band works together really well as the three parts complement extremely well. Together, the blend and the back and forth style really takes this album to another notch. I can’t really find a weak spot on this album, each song has a lot to offer, whether they be the sort of alt-radio friendly (Stay At Home), the in your face bombast (The Shakedown) or the moody crooner (I Got No Time For You) its just a good album that really expand their universe.
Strange Land is a great collection of songs, ones I haven’t been able to turn off for some time now, but it should be noted this does not feel like the album that Schaaf created in his basement, they ditch the loops (save for Marathon Runner) for a more balanced and energetic (and sometimes frenetic) feeling. This feels like quite a different sound yet it just really works for them. Do I think it’s their opus? Maybe not, but this really is a great way for a band to come out of the shadows a bit. It’s also worth mentioning that I am segmenting this album away from The Mistress under the idea that its two completely different bands, and you can definitely feel the energy and creative juice coming not just from Schaaf but from Tapper and Natchez as well. But hey, itss song after song after song of good goddamn music, and leaves us wanting and knowing that there is more to come. I won’t stop listening to it, will you?