Thursday, July 26, 2012

Currently Listening: Mo Beauty by Alec Ounsworth (2009)

The first in what will hopefully be a series of posts about the music getting heavy rotation on my blahblahblahpod, starts with the belated discovery of an album from 2009.

Once upon a time I was a student in London and found myself at edgy hipster indie clubs playing jerky pop/artrock drinking vodka until 3am, my penchant for emo dwindled in the face of something much cooler and those years of musical exploration have remained with me as an integral part of my musical landscape.

One song that seemed to sum up the time and place for me was Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

For me it was the perfect combination of upbeat and angular and was completed by one of the most distinctive lead vocalists I'd ever heard and is still an absolute pleasure to listen to six years later.

When the self titled album was released on cool indie label Wichita back in 2006 I rushed out and bought it along with several other albums, it didn't impress me anywhere near as much as I was hoping and it sort of got lost in the mix somewhere.

Fast forward to 2012, I'm sitting in one of Perth's trendy hipster coffee shops, Cabin Fever, and ahis familiar voice comes over the speakers. It's not often that I hear anything I remotely like on any stereo that isn't mine so I fumbled around trying to figure out how Shazaam works whilst trying to remain hip and not be so uncool as to ask the staff what they were listening to.

And so you have it, the story of how I came to listen to Mo Beauty by Alec Ounsworth.

His voice more than anything else is what appeals on these stripped back (at times comparitively almost acoustic) tracks, it's such an important part of the CYHSY sound that I initially couldn't understand why he felt the need to release the tracks under his own name. But repeat listening introduced me to what amounts to a more experimental edge to his sound, complete with brass and strings and not a single angular beat to be found.

The album was recorded in New Orleans, a city which clearly influenced the direction of the album and one of the obvious standout tracks from the album is "Holy, Holy, Holy Moses (Song For New Orleans)," not least because of the simple repetition of the lyric that you'll find yourself humming in the shower, in bed and on hold to Indian call centres. It's a lovely album, a joy to listen to, providing individual moments of beauty amongst the almost ethereal sound of the whole.

I've only had the pleasure of listening to it for the past week or so but it's barely off of the iPod, if only I had heard of it sooner.

Got an opinion? Feel free to share it in the blahs below. Anyone a fan already? I'd love to hear from you.

Listen to Alec Ounsworth on Spotify
Alec Ounsworth at
Official Website


  1. Hey Toby, it's good to see you're back in action.

    Looking forward to more of your writing man. See you later.

    1. Hey Sam, thanks for stopping in. Hope I can entertain you every now and then.

  2. I love the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album. The other two didn't really click with me outside of a song here and there, though.

    I'll have to give Ounsworth's solo album another listen. I remember hearing parts of it before but never gave it my full attention. Thanks for the reminder, Toby.

    1. It's definitely something you have to be in the right mood for but compared to all of his other work it's his most readily accessible.

      I haven't really checked out the two follow up CYHSY albums yet but I will when I have overplayed this one!