Yellow Ostrich's "WHALE" finds a patch of common ground between primitivism and production-driven pop.
Yellow Ostrich's "WHALE" finds a patch of common ground between primitivism and production-driven pop. Josh Goleman
Artist: Yellow Ostrich
CD: The Mistress
Yellow Ostrich started out as a vehicle for the solo bedroom ramblings of Wisconsin native Alex Schaaf before blossoming into a full-fledged rock band, based in Brooklyn and draped in breathless buzz. But unlike, say, its fellow Badgers in Bon Iver — whose new album hits like a tidal wave of lush, gorgeous production — Yellow Ostrich retains its taste for the simple and stripped-down. It may have recently become a trio with the recent addition of Jon Natchez, a bassist/horn player from the bands Beirut and Bishop Allen, but its songs still clatter and charm the way they did when Yellow Ostrich consisted of Schaaf standing on a stage and looping his sounds, Andrew Bird-style.
Amid echoing drums and the distant drones of "oh-oh oh-oh," it takes a little while for "WHALE" to bloom into an almost hypnotically rich production, even as its component parts clatter, seethe and yelp. Seemingly nonsensical at times, "WHALE" hits harder in spirit than in substance. But it finds a sweet spot along the way, finding a strange patch of common ground between primitivism and production-driven pop.
This story originally ran on May 6, 2011.