Latitude 2009

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Michael Bonner

Ah, so this is art rock, Latitude style. Sad to report, it does nothing very much for me. But I guess it's always going to be hard to follow the Hold Steady.

The kids seem to like Clap Your Hands..., which, I guess, is a good thing. To be honest, I've caught the last five minutes of the Hold Steady, blowing away any cobwebs that may be lurking round the corners, and CYHSY are in the unenviable position of having to follow them.

The good things: I like their tight, motorik rhythms, their claustrophic guitars, the driving energy of the songs. It's fairly by rote art rock -- there's touches in there of Gang Of Four, even New Order -- but they get in there and get the job done. And they attract the youngest audience I've yet seen at Latitude.

The bad thing: Alec Ounsworth's voice is, frankly, the most annoying thing I've ever heard in my life. His spazzy, atonal whine is an acquired taste, sure, but it does nothing for me. There is one great moment, though, on "Satan Said Dance", where he gets the crowd shouting the name of the Father of Lies over and over. Even the kids are shouting it, with some glee it has to be noted.

Anyway, I can hear CSS gearing up to play, and I'd like to catch some of their set before The Good, The Bad & The Queen. I've just seen Paul Simonon, surrounded by a gaggle of kids in the Guest Area. He looks great -- Fred Perry shirt and pork pie hat, dapper as you get at a festival.

I saw them last week, at the Tower of London, when Harry Enfield came on before the encore to stage a mock execution of Tony Blair. Who knows what such high-jinks may occur tonight...


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Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs...