Yellow Ostrich – The Mistress

by Nathan Goldman (Computer Science/Cognitive Psychology), published August 18th 2011

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

When Yellow Ostrich first released the debut full-length album The Mistress last fall, it was the unsigned solo project of Alex Schaff. In the months since, the band has grown into a three-piece with the addition of Michael Tapper and Jon Natchez, and signed with Barsuk Records, who is now reissuing The Mistress with the addition of three bonus tracks.

Aside from the new tracks, the album was recorded singlehandedly by Alex, and all carry a distinctive style thanks to his liberal use of looped background vocals.  Some songs, such as ‘€œHate Me Soon’€ and ‘€œHahahaohhoho’€ begin with a simple, wordless looped phrase (hence the latter’s title) which lyrics and instrumentation are placed around. Others, such as ‘€œLibraries’€ and ‘€œMary’€, do the same thing but first layer several vocal loops atop one another for an incredibly lush sound, especially when combined with guitar and drums.  One highlight is ‘€œWHALE,’€ a track featuring particularly pounding percussion in addition to layered vocals.

The three bonus tracks were recorded with the full band, and as such show a decreased reliance on Schaff’s looped and layered vocals.  This is most easily seen in an alternate version of ‘€œMary’€ which opens not with vocals but with a sparse guitar part. While layered vocals do eventually enter, it’s not until around the song’s halfway point. It’s a great reinterpretation of one of the album’s best songs that shows the band has potential to be more than a one-trick pony, and hints at where they may be headed next.

Recommended Tracks: WHALE, Libraries, Mary, Mary (alternate) (bonus track)

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