Alex Schaaf began his solo project Yellow Ostrich in the small town of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin by mixing simple loops and vocals on his four-track recorder and releasing them as digital-only audio. 2011's The Mistress was packed with bouncy, melodic indie pop, with drum machines and sampled sounds adding an edgy undercurrent. Upbeat songs like "Whale" and "Mary" are deceptively catchy but the lyrics hint at desperate escape routes—whether sailing off on a sea mammal or watching a friend succumb to addiction.
Within just a few years and after a move to Brooklyn, Yellow Ostrich has grown far beyond home studio productions and DIY distribution, signing with Seattle indie label Barsuk Records. Yellow Ostrich has morphed into an official threesome, adding the talents of multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez and drummer Michael Tapper to the flock. On their latest album, Strange Land, heavy guitars and pounding drums match the pent-up frustration exploding in songs like "Stay at Home," "Daughter" and "The Shakedown." This formerly idiosyncratic lo-fi band has developed into that rare bird that straps on a jet pack and blasts off. –Michele Flannery, Google Play
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