Strange Land


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Review Text Yellow Ostrich's follow-up to 2011's Mistress, 2012's Strange Land is a forceful and passionate step forward for the N.Y.C.-based trio. Where Mistress was lightly experimental, gently melodic, and rambling, Strange Land is a muscular and tightly wound collection of electric guitar mini-epics that burn with a forward momentum merely hinted at in lead singer/songwriter Alex Schaaf's previous endeavors. This isn't to say Schaaf has completely forsaken the layered and organic production of Mistress. On the contrary, while the focus on Strange Land are taut rhythms accentuated by a kind of old-school, overdriven tube guitar amp aesthetic, songs like the knotty "I Want Yr Love" and the atmospheric ballad "Wear Suits" retain the various horns, saxophones, and percussion instruments that help Strange Land achieve a kind of indie symphonic grace. It also doesn't hurt that Schaaf has grown into a thoughtful, probing lyricist and invests his songs with biting lines full of searching self-criticism. To these ends, we get the sparkling and fantastical lead-off track "Elephant King," and the driving and poignant rocker "Daughter," in which Schaaf calls out a friend’s highly respected father/writer for privately not living up to his reputation. Similarly, such cuts as the passionate admission of guilt in "Marathon Runner" and the equally uplifting "The Shakedown" mix the best of Schaaf's past experimental rock excursions with a more direct hard look approach that brings to mind positive comparisons to such bands as Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire. Ultimately, Strange Land is a bold and successful leap into new and previously unexplored territory for Yellow Ostrich. ~ Matt Collar

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Elephant King - 4:32
  2. 2. Daughter - 5:50
  3. 3. Marathon Runner - 4:56
  4. 4. I Got No Time for You - 5:21
  5. 5. Stay at Home - 3:05
  6. 6. I Want Yr Love - 5:55
  7. 7. Shakedown - 4:56
  8. 8. Wear Suits - 5:47
  9. 9. Up in the Mountains - 4:00
  10. 10. When All Is Dead - 5:54

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