Live @ WKDU: Yellow Ostrich (To Be Aired Tomorrow Morning!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 5:00pm

The focal point of the songs on Yellow Ostrich’s magnificent debut The Mistress is Alex Schaaf’s tender, pleading voice. It’s a reedy, childlike instrument, similar in timbre and range to Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum or Nils Edenloff from Rural Alberta Advantage. It’s looped and layered, stretched, manipulated; it’s stacked and used as an instrument to flesh out the empty spaces in his bare, searching songs. Aside from a pulsing bass guitar, it’s the only sound on “Hold On,” a kaleidoscope of “ohs” spiraling around Schaaf’s heartbroken opening: “Now that we’ve started, it’s sad to see it end.” Like Bon Iver, with whom he shares a Wisconsin homeland, Schaaf is a secretary of the interior. He’s sitting alone with his beloved in “I’ll Run,” watching cars, then contemplating a slow walk to the churchyard; his voice clangs across “Libraries” like a church bell pealing in a small town, the lyrics cautioning: “Once you leave, all your stories will be gone.” At times it feels like a dollar-store Radiohead, with Schaaf’s voice subbing in for that group’s army of electronics.