Song Of The Week: 'Neon Fists' By Yellow Ostrich

Jan 27, 2014

Every week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson freshens our playlists with a new song.

This week he introduces Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to the song “Neon Fists” by the Wisconsin-born, Brooklyn-based indie rock band Yellow Ostrich, off their forthcoming album “Cosmos.”


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OK. Much as I love that song, we promise not to play it again until December. Instead, let's bring in NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, who brings us a new song each week. Hi, there, Stephen.


CHAKRABARTI: Before we start, though, I've got to ask you: Are you wearing your Daft Punk robot outfit in honor of the Grammy's?

THOMPSON: You know what? I was wearing my Daft Punk robot outfit way before they were.


THOMPSON: I - this is just all - everybody's just following my fashion trends.

CHAKRABARTI: All right. Well, we'll follow your music suggestions, absolutely. So what have you got for us?

THOMPSON: All right. I've got a group from Brooklyn called Yellow Ostrich, which started out as a bedroom recording project for a guy named Alex Schaaf, who now leads a full band with a big, inventive and alluring sound. And to me, Yellow Ostrich's records all build out from a very personal center. They still, to me, feel very intimate, like they're still, at the center, an obsessive guy who's layering all these sounds on top of sounds on top of sounds.

But as these records get bigger and more complex and more elaborately produced, as Alex Schaaf gets more accustomed to collaborating with other musicians, that balance of inwardness and outwardness gets more fascinating and rewarding to listen to. Now, Yellow Ostrich's new album doesn't come out for another month, but the first single is this wonderful, clattering contraption called "Neon Fists."

CHAKRABARTI: Well, let's hear it.


ALEX SCHAAF: (Singing) There are walls and there are windows, but I'm not afraid of them because I get stuck trying to tear down all the doors (unintelligible).

CHAKRABARTI: Well, Stephen, you called the song a clattering contraption. Very nice turn of phrase there, because there's a lot going on in this music.

THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, we, you know, we just heard a little bit of one of the verses, and as the song blooms out, it gets busier and busier, and also still very beautiful. And I love the machine-like quality to this song, where you can almost hear the gears grinding on this little musical Rube Goldberg device. It's a very propulsive song. And to me, the music matches the searching quality of what Yellow Ostrich's music is going for these days.

The band's new album is called "Cosmos." And the whole thing is built around this idea of looking beyond ourselves and seeking something greater, whether it's in the stars or in our daily lives. And I love the way the music itself matches that ambition by looking beyond looking conventional pop sounds.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, that's "Neon Fists" by Yellow Ostrich, from a new album called "Cosmos." NPR music writer and editor, Stephen Thompson. Thanks as always, Stephen.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Meghna.


SCHAAF: (Singing) So tell me you're in control. Tell me...

CHAKRABARTI: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Meghna Chakrabarti.


I'm Jeremy Hobson. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.