Review: The Phenomenal Handclap Band – The Phenomenal Handclap Band (2009)

The Phenomenal Handclap Band (photo by Meaghan Montagano)

What do you get when two DJs start a band to scratch a long-gestating itch to make their own music? If you are Daniel Collas and Sean Marquand, the answer is the eight-member New York-residing The Phenomenal Handclap Band.

It’s a silly band name, and my first impression was an alt-folk indie band from the Appalachian Mountains. And yes, after listening to the first seconds of their self-titled debut, I knew I couldn’t be further from the truth.

I probably should have read a little about the band, and then I would have taken a clue that the two New York underground club DJs would follow more along the lines of fellow New York electronic disco band Hercules And Love Affair.

But to be fair The Phenomenal Handclap Band is less house and more pseudo-experimental electronic pop à la Black Moth Super Rainbow, and even then that’s sort of a stretch considering how much of a classic rock vibe permeates TPHB’s sound. I couldn’t help but recall the first time I had heard Deep Purple‘s “Smoke On The Water” when listening to the slow body-moving “Give It A Rest” with images of scantily clad women dancing alone in a haze of smoke.

Rewinding song and repeating imagination track.

“The Journey To Serra da Estrela” opens as a retro funk number with a synth beat that’s one part science fiction, one part video game, and two parts blaxploitation (think Shaft). There’s a little more sexual energy in the soulful “Testimony” and the psychedelic “The Martyr” relishes in its throwback to the folksy sixties.

Numerous guests like Calla‘s Aurelio Valle and TV On The Radio‘s Jaleel Bunton unite with Collas, Marquand, and the other six TPHB members (Patrick Wood — drums, Nicholas Movshon — bass, Luke O’Malley — guitar, Laura Marin — percussion, Bing Ji Ling — guitar, and Joan Tick — percussion) for some interesting mixes. None more so than the infectious dance track “15 To 20” where L’Trim‘s Lady Tigra joins in the fun.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band’s debut is a pleasant album. It isn’t so appropriate for a club outing, but definitely should be played in the back ground as you’re enjoying a little 4:20 action.

[photo via Meaghan Montagano]

NOTE: Updated.
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Track list

  1. The Journey To Serra da Estrela
  2. All Of The Above
  3. Testimony
  4. Give It A Rest
  5. You’ll Disappear
  6. 15 To 20
  7. Dim The Lights
  8. I Been Born Again
  9. The Martyr
  10. Tears
  11. Baby
  12. The Circle Is Broken

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