Who: [artist id="2814066"]Yeasayer[/artist], a Brooklyn-based experimental rock trio who inexplicably transformed themselves into one of the loopiest pop acts on the planet with Odd Blood, their second full-length (which also might be the best record you'll hear all year). Our third Rock Week Artist to Watch (after fellow Brooklynites Suckers and Florida pop-punk act We the Kings) formed in 2006, wowed critics with their arty All Hour Cymbals debut, toured relentlessly, then discovered their inner Britneys and started over from scratch. The end result is Blood, which doesn't hit stores until February 9 but has already been heaped with so much critical praise that one can't help but think they're this year's Animal Collective (a statement that, in the vociferous void of the blogosphere, carries significant weight).
Sound Like: Wavy, dreamy pop music for the 22nd century, Odd Blood is full of supple, electronic fields that undulate and dip, creating precipitous peaks and delving canyons, with frontman Chris Keating's otherworldly vocals floating above it all like plump clumps of cumulonimbus — all of which is a rather bookish way of saying Britney, Katy and Gaga wish they could sound this good.
Cleveland Rocks?: Though the praise being piled on Blood is thrilling, the guys in Yeasayer have been down this path before. And they know all the blog buzz in the world can't sell out a club, especially if that club happens to be in Cleveland. "The early days of being a band suck. We were hungry, we were lonely, we were sad. We toured sleeping in a van," Keating laughed. "Everyone says we got our breakout moment at South by Southwest in 2007, which we always find very funny, because after that, we did a couple tours, and we played a show in Cleveland in front of, like, 25 people. Then we came back a second time a few months later, and there were three people there. So we're kind of scared to go back to Cleveland."
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The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: After jettisoning the more worldly sounds of Cymbals in favor of their pop present, Yeasayer never looked back. OK, maybe they did a couple of times. "In order to make a record, you almost have to fully exorcise demons and ideas and the documents from of a period in your life, which is easier said than done," Keating said. "It's kind of like j---ing off to your ex-girlfriend. You still do it, but there's an element of shame to it. I put on the old songs now, and I'm kind of like 'OK, I've got to move on.' "
Miserable Nonetheless: If Keating weren't fronting Yeasayer, he's not sure what he'd be doing — but he knows he'd be pretty unhappy doing it. "If I wasn't in a band, I would probably be working in the film industry," he said, "being miserable and trying to be in a band."
It's Rock Week at MTV News, and to celebrate, we're taking a look at some of the most-anticipated new albums and bands of 2010. Stay tuned all week for more!