25 March 2009

Shake, Shake, Shake

So let's rewind to the not-too-distant past. Way back one September night in 2006 I was smushed in a crowded dorm parlor that was packed way past fire hazard capacity. Hundreds of college kids gathered to see some blog-buzzed about band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I too was there to check out the hype. And while disappointed with the main act's lack of stage presence, I was utterly blown away by the openers that preceded them - this little band named The Harlem Shakes.

The Shakes shook up the night with fuzzed-out pop melodies, dancey rhythms and ample energy to boot. The lead singer did this twisty dance, in which he twisted feet his in-and-out, butterfly style. The moves were as endearing as their music was infectious. Following the concert I even met up with the band at an on-campus after party. We swigged back mouthfuls of cheap wine straight from the bottle by the lake behind the psychology department building. There's not much else I remember about that night, except them telling me they went to Yale (what is up with Ivy Leagues producing such impressive indie-pop?) and one of them, I think the bassist?, shared my major (shoutout to American Cultural studies majors everywhere, woohoo). Also I regrettably didn't make out with any of them. That much I remember.

ANYWAY back to my main point - their music. I checked out their website the following morning, only to learn they had zero releases, not an album, not even an EP, just a couple of demo tracks up for download - which I greedily clicked on and thoroughly enjoyed.

Skip ahead to the present. After releasing a brief EP last year, the Harlem Shakes finally, FINALLY released a full length album this past Tuesday. Unsurprisingly Technicolor Health is awesome. Tight, tight melodies, primal rhythms and tribal beats combine with oft-kilter vocals to make one of the best indie-pop records of the year. And to my surprise one of the songs, "Sunlight" is a re-working of one of those demos, "A Night" that I downloaded so many years ago.

Compare, contrast and enjoy.
Sunlight - The Harlem Shakes
A Night - The Harlem Shakes
Strictly Game - The Harlem Shakes


2Scoops said...

crazy, I feel the exact same way. FINALLY they came out with their full length. I have all this "random" stuff from them. Unmastered this and that. Did you like "A Night" version better or "Sunlight" ...I dig the new album but I just love the lyrics more on A Night. Amazing band. Wish they'd tour on the west.

Jess said...

i'm a bit partial to "a night" just because i've listened to it a lot more often and like you said, i will always associate that melody with those lyrics. but yeah either way it's incredibly catchy!

Danny said...

Thanks Jess! Just bought the album on iTunes (it's only $7.99 right now).

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self titled album was great but the follow up was weeeeeak.