Yellow Ostrich Strange Land

Back when Yellow Ostrich released their debut album, the band featured only Alex Schaaf and it was the sound of him playing around in his home studio that made The Mistress so appealing. These days, however, Schaaf is joined by Jon Natchez and Michael Tapper, and by making that jump to full band status, Yellow Ostrich strip themselves of much of their charm. As straightforward indie rock goes, Strange Land isn't bad, but it's a great deal more ordinary than its predecessor suggested it would be. It peaks right at the very start and while it isn't downhill all the way after, it settles down and does the same things repeatedly, to lessening effect. So when the unexpected crunchiness of "The Shakedown" finally arrives, it doesn't have the impact it should. There are definitely some teething troubles for this new version of Yellow Ostrich, but nothing that can't be overcome next time around, if Schaaf takes the lead role again. (Barsuk)