Yellow Ostrich • Marathon Runner

We first caught Brooklyn’s Yellow Ostrich at the end of last summer when they opened for Mates of State at a Barsuk Records label showcase. They had recently signed to the Seattle label—former home of Death Cab for Cutie in their pre-Warner Music days—and they definitely impressed us live, with their unique instrumentation, an emotive performance from frontman, Alex Schaaf, and skillfully looped live vocals.

A few months later, having caught them again, and with a sophomore full-length, Strange Land, now out, the band seems to be relying less on memorable ‘schticks’ or digital tricks and building more off of Schaaf and company’s commendable song-writing and pop sensibilities. The first album, Mistress, seems to have been much more of a solo effort from Schaaf, drawing from an understandably limited depth of field. Now, with seemingly non-stop touring as a full band, both the live performance and new album strike us more of a collaborative effort, resulting in simpler, sweeter songs that have stripped away some of the layers that stood in the way of a more fulfilling listing experience.

Don’t get us wrong though—the band’s very much still cut form a different cloth. Last time we saw them live, multi-instrumentalist, Jon Natchez, alternated from squeekingly glitchy saxophone to a bass guitar being run through an armada  of processing pedals and drummer, Michael Tapper, who plays sans foot pedal bass drum, went back and forth between providing a solid base for the other instruments and acting as more of bright, riffing percussive melody woven throughout the other sounds.

You can download “Marathon Runner,” from Strange Land as this week’s Song and hear another track via their Soundcloud page. The album can be downloaded or ordered on CD or vinyl from Barsuk.

Oh, and did we mention they seem to love to do covers? Below, their version of the Replacements classic, “Androgynous.” Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford.