Press Resources


USA: Nathan Walker @ Riot Act
UK/Europe: James Parrish @ Prescription PR
Japan: Shigeru Kawahara @ Big Nothing

Bob Andrews @ Undertow Music Collective


“Fireproof” from the album The Tourist. Release date February 24, 2017

* Please do not share or post. 

+ Click HERE to download a zip file with the entire album.

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+ Click HERE to download all images in a zip file.
* photos by Michael Regan.



Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s 2005 self-released debut album set a precedent for how bands might begin to approach making music independently. The record received widespread critical acclaim and was named one of “The 50 Most Important Recordings Of The Decade” by NPR.

In the ensuing years, CYHSY’s Alec Ounsworth has continued pushing himself creatively, releasing three additional Clap Your Hands Say Yeah full-lengths and issuing two solo projects. The group has also grown a robust international fanbase: In 2015 alone, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah toured in Latin and South America, Japan and Europe. All of these experiences have helped Ounsworth refine his vision for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as the group heads into its twelfth year and the release of its fifth album, The Tourist.

Like previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah records, The Tourist nods to Ounsworth’s musical heroes—a group that includes artists such as John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. However, this album also shows a natural progression from previous records. “Better Off” and “The Vanity Of Trying” are lush, keyboard-augmented songs, while “A Chance To Cure” and “Ambulance Chaser” are rhythmically askew, and the sighing “Loose Ends” is delicate, acoustic-based folk-rock.

No matter what the style, however, The Tourist’s arrangements are laser-sharp and deliberate, without feeling labored-over. For example, “Down (Is Where I Want To Be)” combines piano flickers with anxious keyboards, gnarled electric guitars and teeth-baring drums—but yet feels cohesive, not chaotic.

The Tourist emerged from a period where Ounsworth was doing a lot of intense soul-searching, and processing personal events that irrevocably shaped his life and future. But although most of these songs came together during this time of reflection, he considers the record to be cathartic—an exhale of sorts, rather than a collection of songs where he was indulging in self-pity or letting things stagnate or fester.

“The album was a type of purge,” he says. “A purge of certain emotional confusion that manifested itself in the last several years. It was not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me.”

Appropriately, The Tourist’s lyrics reflect how complex upheaval can be (“We can beat around this bush together/Sometimes it’s all I think of/Other times I can forget”) and explore the imperfect nature of blame (“The car left the road and was found without its mirrors/You play the victim/And I’ll play the blind man”). Other songs try to make sense of the present time (“Now that the past is on fire/How can I look around and find I can’t remember who I was”) or employ clever wordplay— “Black cat let’s not split hairs/I’m tethered to the weather/I assure I don’t care about no lucky streak”—for effect.

“I wanted to experiment with packing lyrics,” Ounsworth says. “On this album, the lyrics and vocal melody effectively carry the songs, maybe more than anything else. Elvis Costello does this really well on his song ‘Beyond Belief,’ as does Paul Simon on his solo albums. I wanted not to overdo it lyrically, but do try to squeeze as much as I could out of certain phrases.”

Ounsworth spent about a week recording The Tourist at Dr. Dog’s Philadelphia-based studio with a drummer and bassist. After that, he and engineer Nick Krill spent a few months “tidying things up” and recording additional embellishments: backup vocals, keyboards, guitars and more percussion. That gives The Tourist more of a band feel than the last album, and contributes to why the record possesses a musical lightness. The dreamy opening track “The Pilot” especially has a lilting edge, courtesy of Smiths-reminiscent acoustic guitars strums and Ounsworth’s hiccupping, conspiratorial vocals.

The Tourist was then mixed by Dave Fridmann, who also worked on two previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah albums, 2007’s Some Loud Thunder and 2014’s Only Run. Ounsworth says he and Fridmann are on the same musical wavelength, which makes their long-time working relationship an anchor of sorts. “Dave and I don’t necessarily stick with what’s easiest which is fine and anxiety-inducing, in a good way,” he says. “He challenges me to do something a little bit different.”

Having that space and freedom to explore as part of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is crucial to Ounsworth and a vital part of the band’s identity. As anyone who’s seen him perform a living room show will attest, this mindset also often results in songs with dramatically different arrangements. But as a musician and leader of an independent project, Ounsworth prides himself on honesty across all aspects of the band, from live performances to the studio.

“I am a relatively solitary person and seem to work best alone,” he says. “I do count on others to help the project as the process of making and releasing an album moves forward, but if it doesn’t match what I have in mind, it’s hard for me to really be there for it. I guess this is one reason why the project has been independent all this time. Trust me, I understand that thinking this way is both an asset and a liability.”

However, this stubborn independence also reflects Ounsworth’s commitment to musical integrity. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s career arc is all about building on previous successes while staying true to a core artistic vision. And although The Tourist may have emerged from challenging times, it reflects Ounsworth’s uncanny ability to move forward, no matter what the circumstances.

“I’d rather not say that it was a dark time, but it was a difficult time in my life—among the most difficult,” he says. “But I needed and need to try to let it go. And this is how I let things go. Though it’s the same for any album—this one probably more than the others.

“But I have to try to do something each time that’s new and engaging for me,” he adds. “I mean, I could very well just write songs the way they were early on. But I don’t think that people would appreciate listening to someone just going through the motions. We have to build something to last, rather than just build it because it looks good at the moment.”

– Annie Zeleski


The Pilot
What could I say?
What was I after?
I forgot but you figured it out for me
Again with
Your radio silence
Who could I have been?
Taking a number
Take it no more but again I get up
To be the tourist
Or am I the pilot?
I know I know I know I know better than to think at all of tough luck motherfucker who was born a clown
And what was this but a natural disaster?
Caught up with the pig as he was flying half mast
A little dangerous
But you had to try it
I can see you don’t know how to steer
The car left the road and was found without its mirrors
You play the victim
And I’ll play the blind man
I know better . . .

AO: vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards
NK: electric guitar
MW: bass
PB: drums

A Chance to Cure
Love or loss, can’t tell anymore
Wind crept in to capture the beginning of a fever,
Warning sign
Still don’t give a hot shit about appearing in a childhood skit,
Little boy who gets it all and then
Gets out alright
When you don’t know where you’re running
But you’re trying to get there first
This ambulance is bigger than I remember it was
End up alone, great pretender,
See, the bitch don’t know he’s a bitch but bends his head to justify
College try
Drifted off in the middle of a sonnet
And when the thing don’t turn out the way you want,
You let the tears begin,
The endless nights
But I know where you’re going
With a sigh that says it all
I can’t help that it’s snowing
I tried to break your fall
Pain is not the reason
That I can’t let you be
This ambulance is big enough to carry me

AO: vocals, keyboards, electric guitar, percussion
TH: bass
NK: electric guitar
PB: drums

Down (is where I want to be)
Black cat, let’s not split hairs,
I’m tethered to the weather
I assure you I don’t care about no lucky streak
You’re out of luck, kid,
Use your sense
You can’t expect the government to lend you a hand
Who am I to sympathize when …
Down and down and down and down and down and down and down and down is where I want to be
I called upon a Buddhist monk
He said the trick is not to think, boy, leave it alone
Soon you will feel next to nothing
Humanity, catastrophe,
Alright, humanity, insanity,
I gotta believe that I’m doing alright . . .
Down and down . . .

AO: vocals, electric guitar, keyboards, percussion
NK: electric guitar
MW: bass
PB: drums

Unfolding Above Celibate Moon
Weakness, I wouldn’t pay them any mind
Not to what Hollywood says or what Hollywood does
You see it’s no good trying to be someone you’re not
Half-baked prejudice, capture the flag,
It seems that I’ll be your mirror, I’m still your fag
The drugs out here are too strong or they’re never enough
And when Annabelle cried for the sixth time,
I fled to the stoop to take in nursery rhyme
Unfolding above celibate moon that would hide away
Right there in front of me
Annabelle said, “Back inside.  What you want with the moon?”
Covered up in television interview smoke
I could be in LA, Ma, I really don’t know
Anyway, it’s somewhere there’s no telling who does the selling and who gets straight bought
Lately, the stars have all been swallowed by the clouds and
The charlatan whispers replaced by the sound of your castaway cry,
Neither lost nor found but forever learning
These days I take my time (maybe too long) and shine my shoes first,
As the wine stains me toothless, and your crying don’t hurt
The lie that takes me home could well wrap around the earth
As your eyes speak of darts in the sky we through ages before

AO: vocals, keyboards, harmonica
NK: electric guitar
MW: bass
PB: drums

The Vanity of Trying
Some of us stay to get carried away,
The fog it came without any warning
Some of us here are never going to change
Everyone keeps saying sorry
One look
One day
One smile
One way to decide
Complacency, bad taste,
The vacant patience of the shattered stooge,
I late arrived to the supermarket to the find that you had bought up all the food
One look
One wave
One mile
One way to decide where we stand right now
Going looking for easy solutions
Clicking heels and telling me no place like home
And that time is an illusion
And we can be whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever we want
Do something, always gotta win,
Like a teenage promise on a faded tattoo
Sometimes I’m under the pressure,
Other times I’ve nothing to lose
Tough love,
Take it
In stride
One way to decide
Always, now never gonna change
We can beat around this bush together
Sometimes it’s all I think of
Other times I can forget
Takes two
To fake
A smile
Takes two
Two we are
Two we are
Going looking for easy solutions . . .
The vanity of trying

AO: vocals, electric guitars, keyboards
NK: electric guitar, keyboard
MW: bass
PB: drums

Better Off
Ran a little bit away but
Lately just enough
We did it to ourselves this time
Better to keep moving
Better just to hold still
Better off than lonely
Better off
Ran a little bit away but
We still keep our hopes up
It cannot be the same out there for everyone
Better this than nothing
Better them and not me
Better now until it comes, it comes, it comes, the earth just cracks, falls apart
Turns out you were a little vicious
Hey, you hit me with a flower
But for everyone a second chance for what they done
But it came out all wrong,
It came apart
All of any, all of any, all of any, all of any, all of anyone
Now that the past is on fire
How can I look around and find I can’t remember who I was
Holy poses might be too dignified
To describe the way we were
Ran a little bit away where
We can let our heads down
Look up to see the same old fog of war
Better off than doing nothing, doing what I’m doing now, doing what I’m doing now, doing what I’m doing now
Doing nothing

AO: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards
NK: electric guitar
TH: bass
PB: drums

The elastic of my slapstick seems to snap down on deaf ears
I’ll take a drastic little matchstick and set fire to the tiers
I will go around backstage in just my birthday suit
Now that I’m fireproof
It’s a candle that your bring to the table but it’s not enough for me
Small favor, my neighbor, my savior you will be
The ring of fire is growing higher but we will never leave
No . . .
And I know, I know it’s ours to win
How could have thought we’d ever lose
Oh, what a drag it is to win
If I were you, I would love me,
I would love me too
So don’t be alarmed, don’t be afraid when it is just a little fire
I’m teaching myself to be saved and waiting for you to regain your sight,
We were in a fight last night,
I just lost one tooth
Turns out I’m fireproof

AO: vocals, electric guitar, keyboards, snaps
NK: electric guitar
MW: bass
PB: drums, percussion

Loose Ends
You kept your dark promise
And put a spike into my chest
Now I can’t take a breath and settle down
I guess the revolution
Was only in my head
The loose ends are all coming for me now
They’re coming for me now
Someone exposed herself in a magazine
Someone exposed himself on a TV screen
There’s always someone else to blame for what is going ‘round
And I’ll pretend that you never left me
But I will have my doubts
The loose ends are all coming for me
The old friends all go running from me
The loose end are all coming for me now
They’re coming for me
You kept your dark promise
And put a spike into my chest
Now I can’t take a breath and settle down

AO: vocals, acoustic guitars, keyboards
MW: bass
PB: drums

Ambulance Chaser
Back to the beginning,
Collecting the dust,
Little dinner party riddle to get out of a tough spot
You’re getting used to me going away,
I’m getting used to taking the blame
A career opportunity,
Get in the mood,
You make no apologies, sticking to fast food,
But there’s a limit to how much I can endure,
I take my medicine, you just hope for the worst
Ambulance chaser, running down an injury
Ambulance chaser, you’re all I’ll ever really need
Now on the radio station, belligerent fool,
He sacrifices innocents and turns them into tattoos
It means so little to let anybody down
How could it have been that their feelings were allowed
You sink your spite bite into my neck,
Tell your friends it’s alright, that someone’s gotta pay
But there’s a limit to how much I can endure
I take my medicine, you just hope for the worst
Ambulance chaser, running down an injury
Ambulance chaser, you’re all I’ll ever really need
All I’ll ever need

AO: vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, tambourine
MW: bass
PB: drums

Visiting Hours
Drifted along, lost soul, so what do you know now about forgiveness?
Peel the wallpaper back to reveal scumbag, staggering reminder
Ended alone, punch drunk, you must admit adrift from the beginning
But it takes a strong girl to see when she’s weak in the knees and stone blind
Oh, and memory’s always up for a visit
Ah, but memory’s only out for itself
You see my hands can still speak,
It seems I can do just what I want to
I can lift up a pen and begin to put an end to the smell
And all the young men that pass will not ask after the fate that awaits them
They will aspire peace of mind and return to the cards they were dealt
Oh, but memory’s always up for a visit
Oh, and memory’s only out for itself
No, you can’t give it away
Arms around it
Fate, the confusion of the butterfly in the diving bell

AO: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards
NK: percussion


All songs written by Alec Ounsworth
All songs played by CYHSY
Cover design by Michael Merck
Interior photograph by Michael Regan
Wardrobe by Ben Brown

Thanks to: Bob Andrews, Jayne Ballantyne, Mahmood Shaikh, Nathan Walker, Dove Feldman, Dave Fridmann and the Fridmann family, Mike Regan, Anthony Yamamoto, Michael Merck, Nick Krill, Matt Wong, Pat Berkery, Rob Walbourne, Tom Hughes, etc.

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