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The Mistress

Yellow Ostrich
BARSUK

My fiancé loves to watch those cooking shows where each contestant is given a basket of mystery ingredients — say, Gummi bears, graham crackers and arugula — and tasked with using them to create a palatable new dish. The constraints invite a kind of creativity that’s similar to what’s at work on The Mistress, the debut LP from Yellow Ostrich. Frontman (OK, pretty much the only man) Alex Schaaf limits himself to a guitar, a floor tom and his voice (let the looper pedal stand as the KitchenAid mixer of the musical arts), and the result is structured but sweet indie-pop songs, reduced to their most essential ingredients. His background in choral singing is readily apparent in the way he takes little melodic riffs on “oohs” and “aahs” and layers and repeats them until he’s created dulcet harmonies to balance the simple, taut percussion. The mood tends toward playful optimism, yet it’s still substantial enough to encourage repeated listens. Considering the Wisconsin native recently relocated to Brooklyn, Schaaf will no doubt be indie pop’s favorite new darling faster than you can say “Williamsburg.”