When I first encountered The Phenomenal Handclap Band, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I was certainly intrigued by their name. Described as a psych-soul band and a “tight-knit aggregation of musicians and artists from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn,” I immediately thought of the 1960s experimental band The United States of America.
Their eponymous debut album is a collection of funky, psychedelic tracks, with the pop anthem “15 to 20” earning them the most success. I have always held a fascination for the music and culture of the 1960s, and I appreciate that The Phenomenal Handclap Band could pay tribute to that sound while remaining fresh and current.
It is the powerful old school soul track “Baby,” featuring Tommy Brenneck and Rodrigo Ursaia, that caught my attention on the album The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band. This is a beautiful, uplifting track that was followed up with a really good video, featuring stunning retro styling and excellent cinematography.
The Phenomenal Handclap Band was started by New York City underground club DJs Daniel Collás, the Witch Doctor, and Sean Marquand, the Medicine Man. Tired of playing other people’s music, Collás and Marquand had a vision of a supergroup comprised of the best artists from the indie rock and soul underground in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. They have previously worked with Aurelio Valle (Callas), Jaleel Bunton (TV on the Radio), Jon Spencer (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and Lady Tigra (L’Trimm).
The band are renowned for their intoxicating live performances; they tore up the UK festival scene in 2010 with performances at Glastonbury, Wireless and Latitude. They have most recently supported Bryan Ferry on his North American tour.
Naturally, I was eager when I heard that the band is returning with sophomore album Form & Control in early 2012, and that they had fecently dropped the first single. I listened to “Following,” and it would be an understatement to say that I was surprised. I don’t think it would be possible for any track to represent a further departure from the sounds of the debut album than “Following” does.
Whereas the debut was a perfect example of funk and soul, “Following” is a progressive, indie electronic track that would make Ladytron proud. And I love it. I cannot stop listening to it and since first downloading it, I’ve listened to it 16 times and counting.
It makes perfect sense to me now why new wave master Ferry chose the band to support him in his US tour in September and October, given their updated, electronic sound. Unexpectedly I really like this departure in style, and I am eagerly awaiting the full album.
To mark the upcoming release of Form & Control, The Phenomenal Handclap Band are offering a free download of the track “Following” (mp3).