Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s offering comes from Wisconsin band Yellow Ostrich.
If you are at all familiar with Yellow Ostrich, “Marathon Runner” may come out of left field. Alex Schaaf has seen some serious growth in the past two years. Schaaf is a one man band, who began working primarily with drum machines and has now worked Yellow Ostrich up to full live band status. His Bandcamp still houses all his old, more electronic material. But in more recent years, he has experimented with combining his old, bedroom electronica sound with a more expansive folk-rock vibe.
“Marathon Runner” is the quintessential cut from the band’s new album, Strange Land, which dropped on Barsuk Records earlier this month. The track opens up with a vocal loop and some rhythmic guitar from Schaff. While Yellow Ostrich songs are typically known for their clever use of these vocal loops, the intro soon fades into the background to make room for a driving, guitar-driven tune. As Schaaf’s vocals sail in, the track quickly becomes memorable.
The song is definitely more conventional than past Yellow Ostrich material, but that shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. “Marathon Runner” is a perfect example of how Schaaf is using his quirks to make a definitive rock album, instead of just using his rock knowledge to make a quirk album. He sings, “I am a marathon runner, my legs are sore. But I am anxious to see what I’m running for”. The chorus could be considered foreshadowing for Schaaf. He’s blown out 3 EPs and 2 LPs in two and a half years – the guy is prolific. But 2012 will mark the year that Yellow Ostrich sees the yellow light of day and comes out into the spotlight.
Grab “Marathon Runner” above. Even though it came out a few weeks ago, you can still stream the new Yellow Ostrich record Strange Land over at Paste here. The band will be touring throughout the States through the rest of March and early April, and will make an appearance at Sasquatch! Music Festival in May. For now, if you’d like another peek at the new album, give a listen to “The Shakedown”: