Holy, wow. The semester is (basically) over. It feels like just yesterday that I gave birth to this column. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end (at least until next semester). Anyway, for the last Gr8 Unknown of the semester, I gift to you Yellow Ostrich, an indie rock band.
Yellow Ostrich was based around a solo project by one of our very own Wisconsinites, Alex Schaaf. His first album came out in 2009, and then like rapid fire, a bunch of EP’s came out along with a couple new members and some albums, ending with their latest release in 2014.
But the details aren’t really what matters here. What matters is the fricking talent that Yellow Ostrich has.
The first song that caught my high school eye, was “Elephant King.”
Perhaps it was the title, or perhaps it was the album cover, but I took a chance on the song and hit gold. Little did I know that the lyricism would be so creative. Every word perfectly fits and perfectly rhymes. Little did I know, the ending would erupt in emotion.
I soon learned that emotion was something that Yellow Ostrich weaves into every song. Every song speaks truth and implies realness. But, feeling is not only felt through the lyrics — it is felt through the music. Most songs have a sense of urgency, of longing, of hope.
This is done through a combination of rhythm, tempo and Schaaf’s voice — he has a pleading tone.
“Neon Fists,” from Cosmos, is a perfect example of these things. The lyrics are as follows: “There are walls / and there are windows / but I’m not afraid of them / ’cause I get stuck trying to tear down / all the doors into my head.” Later, he says, “Tell me I fucked it up / but you can make it all better.”
What could possibly be more real than this?
Continuing on the track of emotion, everyone has to hear the song “Shades.” This song speaks like no other. I can’t even put my finger (or my ear) on it, but there is something so different here, so enticing, so captivating. It’s the guitar. It latches onto you, tears you apart and then puts you back together again.
It builds, and continues to build, until the very end. This is when Yellow Ostrich really throws down. Listeners can tell that they give it their all, and then it kind of tapers off, leaving us wanting more. It instills a certain feeling on the lister, one of anxiety, or anger. (But, hey, maybe that’s just me.)
But oh my goodness gracious, look at these words — “Sit alone with the pictures that I drew, I can build any universe for you, see?”
HOLY. Those are so beautiful.
OK, Yellow Ostrich is blowing me away too much to keep writing. Just know that what should be taken away here is that Yellow Ostrich is incredibly artful and inventive with lyrics, and is completely captivating through rhythm and emotion.
Please check out some of their other songs. You’re welcome.