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Yellow Ostrich

The Mistress


Aug 23, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Yellow Ostrich’s The Mistress is the playful debut LP from Wisconsin-to-NYC transplant Alex Schaaf. Recorded primarily in his bedroom with Schaaf playing most instruments (with some help throughout from a few other musicians), it’s an enormously positive-feeling album that explores plenty of creative ideas in its short running time.

Schaaf’s vocals work as Yellow Ostich’s main instrument, looped layer over layer, at different points harmonizing with himself, playing calls-and-repeat, singing in round or just creating rhythmic background noise. Drums are clear and present throughout, and there is some simple guitar accompaniment at points, but they’re almost always secondary to the chorus of looped background singing. In “Hahahaohhoho,” Schaaf feeds a gentle laughing noise through the looping pedal as he sings about butterflies and birds. In “Libraries,” Schaaf’s vocal layering builds to a swirling cacophony before breaking into a singalong chorus.

Schaaf’s sense of humor is one of his greatest assets, and the points where it shines through on The Mistress are some of the best of the album. In the brief opening song, “I Think U Are Great,” a soft chorus of voices progressively build up while singing the song’s title, seeming as if it’s about to lead into some great revelation; it’s not until the song ends that you’re let in on the joke that those are the only words. “WHALE” features lyrics that have Schaaf directly addressing one of the track’s titular sea mammals, proposing to take a ride on its back and pleading for it to sing him a song. “Mary” is about a girl who has visions of a bright future where “everything turns around,” but are later discredited when he explains she’s just on drugs.

Schaaf is clearly a talent to watch, and if the outpouring of music on the Yellow Ostrich Bandcamp site over the last two years is any indication, one with a lot of creative ideas needing to get out. As a debut LP, The Mistress is an excellent place to begin and a sign of good things to come. The CD release features three bonus tracks, including an alternate version of “Mary.” (

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April 16th 2012

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