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SESSION #42 - Yellow Ostrich

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Yellow Ostrich's Final Show

By Chelsea Mae Hassman

photo by Chelsea Mae Hassman

Brooklyn turns out a huge amount of particularly great bands. One of the best, Yellow Ostrich has been a local staple for about 5 years. Originally just frontman Alex Schaaf’s project, over time the band grew to be a vibrant four piece. Recently, they announced that they’d be disbanding to move on to other things. This came at a particularly grim time for Brooklyn, where favorite venues, stores, cafes and more are closing left and right. On December 8th, they performed one final time at Glasslands, just weeks before the venue is slated to close. Alex answered some questions for us about the decisions surrounding putting YO to rest, his other project, Human Heat, choosing their final set-list, and more:


You just released Cosmos earlier this year. Why stop Yellow Ostrich so soon after a well-received record?
It was just feeling like a good time to close it up.  we had kind of hit the end of the Cosmos record cycle and so we were naturally at a point of transition between a lot of different things.  and we just decided it was the right time to move on to other things; i always wanted to end YO while it was still feeling good, and not on any bad feelings or anything, so I'm glad to go out the way we did.  I think all good things have their time and that it's exciting to open new chapters and see what else we can do with this short little life we've got.

You mentioned in YO’s farewell post that you have another project you’re working on, Human Heat. Are you working with any of your YO bandmates on that project, or do you guys have plans to work together on anything else?
I definitely hope to work with all those guys again, i'm sure we'll all cross paths many times in the future. they're not on this Human Heat stuff but hopefully we'll play together soon!

What differences/similarities do you see between YO and Human Heat?
Human Heat is still very new at this point, officially it only has 4 songs, but it's definitely more electronic and beat-driven than a lot of the YO stuff, and there are some (amazing) guest singers on it (Teeny from TEEN and Val from Tei Shi) which is new for me. 

Besides the fact that you played the first YO show as a full band at Glasslands, was having the final show there a conscious decision in a time when Glasslands itself is coming to an end? 
When we heard Glasslands was closing, we definitely wanted to play there before it did.  Then when we booked that, we started thinking about whether that should be our final show, it seemed like a very fitting way to go out, and i wouldn't have wanted to do our final show anywhere else.  

What’s your favorite NYC or Brooklyn venue you’ve gotten to play? Why?
Glasslands will always have a big place in my heart, just for how many times we've played there.  I also loved playing Bowery Ballroom, that was a huge thrill to be able to headline there twice, definitely crossed it off the life 'to do' list, it's just such a beautiful space and a great crew and people that work there, the total package. 

Do you have a particular favorite memory with YO that you could share with us?
Getting a police escort past a traffic jam, to get into the Sasquatch festival a few years ago, that was pretty great.

If YO did a Secret Santa, what's the most ridiculous thing you’d get for one of your bandmates?
I would get Jared an Enya poster.

How did you guys pick a set list for the last show? Was is hard to narrow down?
It was definitely a challenge, and we spent a lot of time talking about it. we wanted to just play the most crowd-pleasers we could, we learned a few older songs that we haven't played in a long time (Fog, Hate Me Soon, Hold On) and brushed up on the other ones that we hadn't played since July.  It's hard to take a song off the setlist, knowing that we'll never play it again, but we wanted the final show to be solid from front-to-back, and not make it super long and drawn out, because that wouldn't have fit what we had been doing this whole time.


photo by Donald Rasmussen

Big Ugly's Favorite Albums of 2012

It might be a little late to put out a favorite album list for 2012 but we always love sharing our favorites with you, no matter what time of year. Out lists have never been a "Best of..." or the top albums of the past year but instead a collection of some of the music that we listened to over and over again. So as today's new albums come out and we begin again to slowly build our favorites for 2013 we present to you some of Big Ugly Yellow Couch's favorite albums of 2012.

"Rot Gut Domestic" - Margot & The Nuclear So and So's


"Holiday" - Port St. Willow


"Skeptic Goodbye" - You Won't


"Little Broken Hearts" - Norah Jones


"Shields" - Grizzly Bear


"Neck of the Woods" - Silversun Pickups


"Strange Land" - Yellow Ostrich


Port St. Willow - Live at Glasslands



We added Nick of Port St. Willow to our roster of blog performin' buddies one year ago when he stopped by the couch during a trip out east. And, in typical time flies fashion, the gent has done a lot in the days that have passed by. Though some are huge (He released "Holiday", which Pitchfork  gave nearly eight thumbs up to) and some are far (a move from Portland to Brooklyn, which deserves massive musician street cred), he's been playing all over town so, naturally, we stopped by.  As he did one year back, Port St. Willow played the standout track "Amawalk" — only this time, the restrained, essential drumming of Jake Nussbaum added so much to Nick's soaring and heartbreaking voice. 

Don't believe us? Thankfully, technology made it possible to show, instead of tell you. Will this make writing obsolete? Who knows, but with tunes like these, we're fine with just lettin' 'em roll...



There are lots of things we don't understand: Air conditioners. GIF blogs. The type of person who follows a tornado for fun. But, whether you get your kicks from babies making wide-eyed faces on repeat or nature's own theme parks, we've got our hands on something we all collectively won't be able to wrap our brain candy around: Tan Vampires' new video.

 Now, I've seen some tricks in my day — well, more like just a lot of David Blaine documentaries — but I have no idea how this shit happened. Or how it worked. Or why no one went, "wait, this is kind of a pain in the ass, no?" before blowing the rest of the video budget on value menu treats at Wendy's. But, thankfully for all of us, these artists are more dedicated to projects and less obsessed with Frostys than I am.

The (ed. note: brilliant) director discussed how big of an (ed. note: near-psychotic) endeavor this truly was, but you can't truly get a grip on how hard and deep-into-the-cranium-cavern this is without giving it a look. So, look. 9 movies, 9 cameras, one video. Makes all of those other one-shot videos look a whole hell of a lot less special. 





Couch Session #43: Jonquil

There's something we do at Big Ugly that goes quite undiscussed,
it comes up, it's featured, but often with a hush.
For whoever comes by and plays tunes for us two,
we provide a whole spread, their favorites to chew.
We've had cookies and cakes, chips and dips galore,
but with these boys, it was our falafel they very (very) much adored.
For their second-to-last day in the states before traveling overseas,
we got to play host with hometown comforts to put them at ease.
It's an interesting twist, to do our best to make them relaxed,
when their songs bring to mind many free times that have passed
The bouncy melody on "Mexico", with those punchy keyboards
Two trumpets blaring on "Too Cold" and the reverberating chords,
These guys just sound to us like vacation in a bottle,
a summary of warmer times we wanna obtain full-throttle,
While the band's back at home, living their lives,
and we're here in the city, with a new home in which to thrive,
listening to these songs takes us back with ease,
to a time where palm trees swayed in the summer breeze.
It's rainy today, so if the tropics can't come soon enough,
have Jonquil whisk you there. We promise, it won't be tough:



Jonquil - "Mexico (live on Big Ugly Yellow Couch)"

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Jonquil - "Real Cold (live on Big Ugly Yellow Couch)"

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Download the entire session