As far as solo debuts go, Alec Ounsworth‘s Mo Beauty (Anti-) is impressive. The Philadelphia-based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman travelled to New Orleans to record the album with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and a host of the city’s notable musicians, including bassist George Porter, Jr. (Meters), drummer Stanton Moore and keyboardist Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars). The result is a mature, confident, 10-song collection that Ounsworth had only hinted at being capable of with his work in Clap Your Hands. He also has a second solo album, Skin And Bones (credited to Flashy Python and available online only), that features members of the Walkmen, Dr. Dog and Man Man. While all this new music is good for Clap Your Hands fans, you get the impression that the band (now on hiatus) is no longer a priority for Ounsworth, who became a father last year and is enjoying family life at home. Ounsworth is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.
Ounsworth: I am writing this in and, in a way, about my dining room. Matt Sutton just arrived. Matt is a guitarist and songwriter and perpetual mechanic. He plays primarily baritone and pedal-steel guitar. Besides helping me with my last two records, Matt has a project called the Malarkies. Whenever anyone (journalist, usually) asks me or asked me about “success,” I tend to reply, “Success is completing a record and making it sound the way you intended. It ends there. I know successful musicians you may not know and may sadly never know, but they exist, in fact. I know successful musicians who, even more sadly, don’t imagine they exist.” Here are some, off the top of my head, that I have grown fond of but are, from what I gather, not very well known (that is, I’d prefer it if they were better known): The Malarkies, Mayo Thompson, Bob Drake, Mark Mulcahy, Arto Lindsay, Alexander Skip Spence, Doug Sahm, Pat Martino, Swell Maps, the Teeth, Chris Knox, the Go-Betweens, Hasil Adkins, the Raincoats, Harry Pussy, etc. There are plenty relative great unknowns out there, of course. There always have been.