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Dreaming of Another World December 21, 2010

Posted by monty in music.
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Herein lies entry #4 in my random list of Favorite Albums of 2010.

Cloud Cult – Light Chasers

Strip away Arcade Fire’s bombast, self-importance, and the calculated “anarchy” of their live shows, add in a palpable feeling of optimism and euphoria (even when their lyrics are dealing with melancholy and loss), and you’ve got Cloud Cult.  A true indie band – singer/guitarist Craig Minowa started his own label in rural Minnesota in order to release their music in an environmentally-friendly way – Cloud Cult continues to hover just on the cusp of greatness with this, their seventh album.

Light Chasers is their most ambitious work yet, a song cycle purportedly about “an astronaut’s journey from liftoff to landing” (or so says AllMusic Guide).  Cloud Cult’s own website describes it as an album about the search for answers, so, yes, there’s definitely a whiff of pretension hovering over the proceedings.  But here’s the thing: their melodies are so fucking beautiful and uplifting that it’s one of those rare albums where you come away feeling like you just experienced something important.

Across 16 songs (some fully formed, the others shorter sketches), the band does what it does best, mixing guitars, strings, brass, and electronics with Minowa’s delicate tenor to create songs that are both ornate and majestic. One of the most entertaining things about the band is how they make this particular quality work within the strictures of conventional rock music (in the “Unexplainable Stories” clip, watch how the song kicks into high gear at 3:25).  It’s fun, inspiring stuff, and it’s driving me bonkers that the closest they’re coming to my neck of the woods in support of this album is freaking Memphis. Disappointing, Cloud Cult.

Here are two songs from the album, recorded live at Seattle’s KEXP.  The first is “Unexplainable Stories,” the second is the gorgeous “There’s So Much Energy in Us.”

*****

Current listening:

Lilys – Precollection (2003)

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