Cloud Cult rock dramatic indie-pop. - Oh My Rockness

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Cloud Cult rock dramatic indie-pop.

April 3, 2007
The climactic Cloud Cult is set to play two shows at the Mercury Lounge. The Saturday show is sold out, but as I write this, there are still tickets available for the Sunday show (due to Easter?). Don't miss out on this one if you like inspiration with your rock.

Oh My Rockness was fortunate enough to have Cloud Cult participate in our SXSW show down in Austin this year, and let us tell you, they have some hardcore followers! The place was packed up front with fans trying to get as close as possible to Craig Minowa and his sweet smoke machine. And it's a good thing there were a bunch of people up there too, because seeing Cloud Cult live is meant to be a collective euphoric experience; an empty room just wouldn't cut it for this band.

When you see Cloud Cult, it's a complete sensory experience. Instruments erupt into crescendo, lights and smoke swirl, and painters paint (more on that in a minute) as singer and leader Craig Minowa belts out his soul-searching songs of heartache and hope. If that sounds a little dramatic, well, that's kind of the point. This music is unabashed emotion. And yes, perhaps it's a little overdramatic to have two artists stationed behind the band painting abstract pictures from blank canvases, but if you can allow it to be what it is, it's sort of cool too. The band auctions off the paintings at the end and gives the proceeds to charity, which is definitely cool.

Minneapolis' Cloud Cult have been around for awhile now, but only recently have they broken out of their "cult" (hardy har har) status and started receiving widespread recognition. The sudden props from new fans and critics alike had a lot to do with the release of their brilliant album Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus in 2005. It is an album full of soaring orchestration and instantly accessible melodies. Think The Shins meets The Flaming Lips. And as good as that record is, just wait until you hear The Meaning of Eight. But really, most people have converted to the Cloud Cult club after seeing them live.

Minowa is an exceptional vocalist (his voice sounds a lot like James Mercer) and is undoubtedly a D.I.Y. musician. He puts out records on his own label, Earthology (all of Earthology's production materials are recyclable and much of the CD sales and concert profits go to environmental causes) and has little to no proper distribution.

If you see Cloud Cult live, and are prepared for the experience, you will most likely become a fan. Their performances are everything in understanding their appeal.

Also playing is Young Galaxy, comprised of Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless. (You may know Ramsay from everyone's favorite ageless beauties, Stars). Together, the two pleasant Canadians trade off breezy vocals to create lushly layered indie-pop that throws in some subtle synths to round out their soft sound. Kind of sounds like Stars, doesn't it?

Young Galaxy's music seems meant to correspond with lots of light, so whatever stage they play on better have lots of blue and red and green beams firing off from above as they play these dreamlike tracks. It's a good thing they're playing with Cloud Cult then. Their debut is due out on Arts & Crafts, home to such spazzy noise-core bands as American Analog Set and Broken Social Scene. Man, those bands are LOUD!

Cloud Cult and Young Galaxy play two shows at Mercury Lounge, Saturday, April 14th and Sunday, April 15th.


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