Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performing in 2014
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performing in 2014
Background information
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
GenresIndie rock, indie pop
Years active2004–present
MembersAlec Ounsworth
Past membersSean Greenhalgh
Robbie Guertin
Lee Sargent
Tyler Sargent

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is an indie rock band active since the early 2000s in and out of Philadelphia. The band was founded as a collaboration between singer-songwriter Alec Ounsworth, Sean Greenhalgh, Robbie Guertin, Lee Sargent, and Tyler Sargent. Ounsworth now performs under the name, as a solo artist.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has released a total of six albums. Their self-titled debut album appeared in 2005 and their most recent, New Fragility, in 2021.


Early work[edit]

Ounsworth first started writing songs during high school, and by 2003 was playing small gigs and pursuing various opportunities to get his music heard. Working in his basement studio in Philadelphia, he would test new material on acoustic guitar at a weekly, two-song slot at a drag performance at local venue L'Etage. He then worked on the songs further in his basement, using a drum machine, bass, guitars, keyboards, and vocals.

2004–2006: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah[edit]

He soon formed a band, consisting of drummer Sean Greenhalgh, keyboardist/guitarist Robbie Guertin, and brothers Lee (guitar/vocals) and Tyler (bass) Sargent, and would frequently commute to New York for rehearsal.

The chosen name derives from some graffiti spotted in NYC, huge letters on a wall: "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah". Initially planned as an interim name for one show only, the moniker stuck and was never changed.

The band started to record their material and initially planned a four-song EP. Yet granted extra studio time, more songs were written, and the EP expanded to become their self-titled debut album, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Recorded between Providence, RI and Red Hook, Brooklyn, it was made for under $5000, Produced and Mixed with Adam Lasus, and was first released – completely independently – in 2005.

With an independent DIY and direct-to-fan ethos, the band hand-delivered copies of their debut album to stores in New York and Philadelphia, where they also developed a fanbase including celebrities such as David Byrne and David Bowie, both of whom attended their shows.[1][2] Early social media exposure on sites like Myspace, and favorable reviews in the then up-and-coming online media, particularly from music website Pitchfork, helped Clap Your Hands Say Yeah build a constant following, a dedicated audience, and commercial success.[3] "CYHSY is...deserving of the hype for what is – quite possibly – a nearly perfect album"[4] (Billboard).

US tours with The National, Dr. Dog, and Architecture In Helsinki followed, alongside appearances at festivals such as Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Osheaga, Roskilde, Rock en Seine, and Rock Werchter, headline club shows, and performing at Irving Plaza on New Year's Eve 2005. Concerts, re-pressings, and further critical acclaim led to the album peaking at #26 on the Billboard 200. Subsequently, they licensed the album to Wichita Recordings for the rest of the world[5] and continued to distribute directly in the US.

Tracks from the album have been used for numerous TV shows, movies, and advertising, such as Looking For Alaska ("The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"), Microsoft Xbox ("Sunshine and Clouds (And Everything Proud)") and Visa ("Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood").[6]

2007–2009: Some Loud Thunder[edit]

The touring and success of their debut album upended Ounsworth's expectations of what it would be like to be a professional musician, and the buzz and hype that engulfed the band coloured the material Ounsworth wrote for the follow-up, Some Loud Thunder. The album was produced together with Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips) at his Tarbox Road studio. Ounsworth credits Fridmann with shifting the album away from being a repeat of the first, and challenging Ounsworth as a songwriter – he's on record as calling the whole experience "revelatory".

Released on January 29, 2007, in the UK, and January 30th, 2007, in the United States, Some Loud Thunder garnered rave reviews: it was "enthusiastically raw" (BBC), while Pitchfork praised the band's "cracked, brassy vocals, shaggy rhythms, and luxuriant melodies". The record debuted at #47 on the Billboard 200, while "Satan Said Dance" was ranked the 95th best song of 2007 by Rolling Stone.[citation needed]

As with the first record, the band remained defiantly independent, refusing to sign deals that compromised their artistic vision or cashed in on their burgeoning reputation. Meanwhile, the band wrote music for the film The Great Buck Howard.[7]

The song "Satan Said Dance" was used for numerous audio-video synchronization such as in Clark Gregg and Chuck Palahniuk's Choke, and Ryan Philippe's Catch Hell.

2009–2010: Flashy Python and Mo Beauty[edit]

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ounsworth headed to New Orleans to write and record Mo Beauty, released under his own name on ANTI- records. The album highlighted his affinity for the people of the city after the devastation, with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and Ounsworth hiring local greats like George Porter (Meters, Allen Toussaint) and Stanton Moore (Galactic), Robert Walter, and many more. Paste praised how the album's "resounding use of strings, horns, piano and percussion appears and disappears at unexpected moments with beautifully unsettling results",[8] while SPIN noted that "almost every tune on Mo Beauty equals or betters those on CYHSY's lauded 2005 debut".[9]

At the same time, Ounsworth produced Skin And Bones, a record with a group of friends including Matt Barrick (The Walkmen), Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman of Dr. Dog and Quentin Stolzfus (Mazarin, Light Heat) amongst others, which was self-released on vinyl and online as Flashy Python. Described by Pitchfork as "a wheezy, dark song cycle-cum-inebriated stumble down South Street",[10] the album was recorded in Ounsworth's barn and featured new songs alongside re-workings of Ounsworth's repertoire, partially coinciding with Mo Beauty.

2011–2012: Hysterical[edit]

In 2011, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah recorded Hysterical with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, Future Islands). Recorded in Hoboken and Dallas, and featuring improv pianist-composer Mike Garson (David Bowie, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins) on 'Adam's Plane', Hysterical garnered some of the best reviews of the band's career to date: "balances the exuberance of the band's first album with beauty and reflection",[11] said NPR, while Consequence of Sound praised the use of "grandiose arrangements, gorgeous strings, and minimal synths."[12] Another worldwide tour followed, including prominent slots at the UK's End Of The Road festival, Primavera Fauna in Chile, Harvest Festival Australia, 5punto5 Mexico, Electric Picnic Ireland, Personal Fest Argentina, CBGB Festival NY, The Super Happy Fun Time Fest Texas, Sunset Junction LA, Outside Lands SF, and SXSW, in Austin, Texas.

Throughout this period, the band also appeared several times on primetime TV, invited by David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon among others, and remained true to their artistic vision and independence – the rise of MySpace and blogging, and the very early iterations of social media, helped with finding new, organic ways to connect to their audience.

The album was released on September 12 in the UK, Europe, Japan, and Australia, and on September 20 in the United States. It charted in the US, France, and the UK.

2013–2016: Only Run[edit]

After the release of the Little Moments EP on their Bandcamp page, on August 1, 2013, their "doing things differently" approach was once again employed for their fourth record, 2014's Only Run. Ounsworth asked fans to submit "relationship stories" which were worked into some of the tracks, and he started doing house shows and more intimate tours.[citation needed]

Recorded once again with David Fridmann in his remote cabin studio, Only Run included collaborations with Kid Koala and The National's Matt Berninger. While Ounsworth performed most of the instruments, the synth-laden album also features drummer Sean Greenhalgh and Zach Tenorio Miller on piano.

Released on June 3, 2014, directly in the US, and the rest of the world via Xtra Mile, Only Run was critically praised. NPR noted "relentless pursuit of invention and reinvention",[13] and Rolling Stone called its songs "big enough to fill a cathedral".[14] Popmatters called it "one of the best independent rock records of 2014".[15]

The release tour included Sasquatch!, Riverfest, Culture Collide Festival, and extensive North America touring, but also presented CYHSY in a new format: performing solo house shows all over the US and abroad, organized by the Undertow Music Collective.

In 2015, the band re-released their 2005 debut self-titled album on CD and vinyl for its 10th anniversary, accompanied by another North American tour.

2016–2019: The Tourist[edit]

2017's The Tourist was produced by Ounsworth and Nick Krill, and mixed once again by Dave Fridmann, resulting in a "record which pretty much sounds like what a 2005 listener of Clap Your Hands would have expected them to be making ten years down the line"[16] (Drowned in Sound). Ounsworth's ambiguous role (artist/band/group) crystallized even further with both the media and public, garnering praise such as "the holistic craftsmanship of Ounsworth's musicality is impressive"[17] (Allmusic) and acknowledging "the sort of live-wire creativity that keeps music careers going longer than early skeptics could have imagined"[18] (NPR). The album also features other members of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's touring band such as Matt Wong, Pat Berkery, and Tom Hughes.

The record was released through a worldwide direct distribution deal, except for a license in Japan, once again underlining an uncompromising attitude towards the control of rights and skepticism towards traditional record labels.

The release tour included festivals such as OFF Poland, Acoustic Lakeside Austria, NOS Alive Portugal, and Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg, alongside tours across the US and Canada, all over Europe, Japan, and Mexico.

A tour featuring a setlist consisting of songs from 2007's Some Loud Thunder was undertaken on the occasion of a deluxe reprint for the record's 10th anniversary.

2020–2021: New Fragility[edit]

February 21, 2021 marked the release of New Fragility, the sixth record as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but Ounsworth's eighth overall; indeed, the record has the catalogue number CYHSY08 after a process of consolidation of the artist's complete, worldwide rights towards distribution and administration deals with Secretly Distribution and Domino Publishing.

The album was preceded by a series of Bonus Tracks albums connected to each record, featuring rarities, B-sides, live tracks, demos and more, as well as the singles 'Thousand Oaks', 'Hesitating Nation', and acoustic ballad 'Where They Perform Miracles'.

Several years of personal trauma including the break-up of Ounsworth's marriage, as well as the collective state of unease and anxiety at the state of the world, resulted in a record that is "touching and vulnerable"[19] (American Songwriter) and "poetic, deeply personal"[20] (Allmusic), and one praised by worldwide media like NPR, Uncut, Le Soir, and Les Inrocks. The album was mainly produced by Ounsworth with additional production by Will Johnson, recorded with engineer Britton Beisenherz at Ramble Creek Austin, and mixed by John Agnello at Kaleidoscope Studios over 2019. Alongside Ounsworth, New Fragility features Johnson on drums and Beisenherz on bass, as well as touring members bassist Todd Erk and drummer Jonas Oesterle, and a string quartet conducted and arranged by Brendan Cooney.

In 2021 Ounsworth, as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, performed exclusive solo shows at Ars Cameralis Festival Katowicz and Ypsigrock Festival Sicily, where he also participated in the artist residency "The Sound of This Place", featuring electronic musicians Eva Geist and Camilla Sparksss, as well as visual artist and architect Gustav Düsing and light designer Julien Dufour.

A digital Deluxe Version of New Fragility was released on March 11, 2022, which featured a series of stripped-down versions of the songs with the intention to "reveal them in their bare essentials".[This quote needs a citation]

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are scheduled to tour the US and Europe between March and July 2022.

Other projects and collaborations[edit]

Alongside artists such as Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O and The National's Matt Berninger, Ounsworth participated in the Parents' Choice award-winning album of Walter Martin (The Walkmen, Jonathan Fire*Eater) We're All Young Together, promoting alternative music for children.

Furthermore, Ounsworth contributed backing vocals to The Walkmen's 'Lisbon' and participated in Los Dreamers, a project based on immigration stories of producers Raul Pacheco (Ozomatli) and Shawn King (Devotchka).

Ounsworth also collaborated with German mainstream electronic pop artist Claptone on the tracks 'Ghost' and 'Animal' as a featured vocalist and co-writer.



Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US Indie
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Released: June 28, 2005 (US)
  • Label: Wichita
[A] 16 29 45 66 11 52 19 95 26
Some Loud Thunder
  • Released: January 30, 2007 (US)
  • Label: Wichita, V2
47 2 35 75 88 23 40 45
  • Released: September 20, 2011 (US)
  • Label: V2
122 20 [B] 180 198
Only Run
The Tourist
  • Released: February 24, 2017[33]
  • Label: CYHSY
New Fragility
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]



Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Is This Love?" 2005 41 59 74 11 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
"In This Home on Ice" 2006 49 68 6
"The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" 67 149
"Satan Said Dance" 2007 Some Loud Thunder
"Same Mistake" 2011 Hysterical
"Maniac" [C]
"Coming Down" 2014 Only Run
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released


  1. ^ Clap Your Hands Say Yeah did not enter the US Billboard 200, but peaked at number 13 on the US Heatseekers Albums Chart.[31]
  2. ^ Hysterical did not enter the Ultratop 200 Albums chart, but peaked at number 16 on the Flemish Heatseekers chart.[32]
  3. ^ "Maniac" did not enter the UK Singles Chart, but peaked at number 35 on the UK Physical Singles Chart Top 100.[37]


  1. ^ " : Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!: Self-titled". 2005-07-02. Archived from the original on 2 July 2005. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  2. ^ Staff, BrooklynVegan (11 August 2005). "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, meet David Byrne | Seaport, NYC pics". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  3. ^ "Blog Rock Revisited: Musing the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah 10th Anniversary Tour". Pitchfork. 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  4. ^ Clap Your Hands Say Yeah by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, retrieved 2022-03-03
  5. ^ "Wichita Recordings". Wichita Recordings. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  6. ^ Visa - reklama 2011 - nowy spot - FLOW 4, retrieved 2022-03-03
  7. ^ "The Great Buck Howard : Full Credits". Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  8. ^ "Alec Ounsworth: Mo Beauty". 2009-10-30. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  9. ^ "Alec Ounsworth, 'Mo Beauty' (Anti-)". SPIN. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  10. ^ "Flashy Python / Alec Ounsworth: Skin and Bones / Mo Beauty". Pitchfork. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  11. ^ Boilen, Bob (2011-09-11). "First Listen: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, 'Hysterical'". NPR. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  12. ^ "Album Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Hysterical". Consequence. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  13. ^ Thompson, Stephen (2014-05-25). "Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, 'Only Run'". NPR. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  14. ^ Dolan, Jon (2014-06-16). "Only Run". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  15. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Only Run, PopMatters". PopMatters. 2014-06-10. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  16. ^ "Album Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - The Tourist". DrownedInSound. Archived from the original on 2022-03-03. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  17. ^ The Tourist - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2022-03-03
  18. ^ Thompson, Stephen (2017-02-16). "Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, 'The Tourist'". NPR. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  19. ^ "Politics and Divorce Play a Part in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's New Album, 'New Fragility'". American Songwriter. 2021-01-27. Retrieved 2022-03-03.
  20. ^ New Fragility - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2022-03-03
  21. ^ a b "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah".
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah albums" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique / Lescharts. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  24. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah German Charts". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  25. ^ a b "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Irish Charting". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  26. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Italian Charting". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  27. ^ Peaks in Scotland:
  28. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah In Der Schweizer Hitparade". Hit Parade. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^ "Chart: CLUK Update 24.09.201". 2014-07-13. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
  31. ^ "Heatseekers Albums Chart January 21, 2006". Billboard. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  32. ^ " - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Hysterical". Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  33. ^ "The Tourist". AllMusic.
  34. ^ "New Fragility by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah". Apple Music. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  35. ^ Peaks in Scotland:
  36. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah UK singles". Music VF. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  37. ^ "Official Physical Singles Chart Top 100 - 14 August 2011 - 20 August 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 26, 2020.

External links[edit]