Cloud Cult

I attended a wedding a few weeks ago where I made a promise to write, once again, about one of the greatest bands that you’ve probably never listened to.  This band is Cloud Cult and they don’t get nearly the amount of attention, money, or acclaim that they deserve.  Part of this general malaise most likely stems from the fact that they self publish their albums on Earthology Records which was founded by lead singer Craig Minowa in 1997.  Although college radio stations and critics seem to find much to like about this group from Minneapolis more often than not people I have the privilege of meeting in person invariably have never heard of them.

My love for Cloud Cult began while I was living overseas and was mailed mix albums by an old college friend.  One such album contained the track Pretty Voice from their 2007 album The Meaning of 8 (amazon) (itunes).  Instantaneously I was hooked.  The layered vocals, the slow build, and the energy and narrative in this one song seemed to be tailor made to make me pay attention.  The Meaning of 8 has a haunting quality smothered in beauty, discovery, and joy that has proven to be timeless in appeal.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Pretty Voice

From there I took a small step back in time and I found the rougher, raw gemstone that is their 2005 release Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus (amazon) (itunes).  Although this album doesn’t have the melodies and polish of their later efforts the songwriting and energy are just as apparent this effort as those that were still to come.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Transistor Radio

At this point in my life it was still 2007 and I was already hooked deeply on anything I could find by Cloud Cult.  I was routinely putting them in compilations and featuring them on Best of the Year lists.  When their 2008 album was released, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea Partying Through Tornadoes) (amazon) (itunes) it seemed that their musical abilities had matured at the same pace as my musical taste.  This album is immaculate from start to finish and contains some wonderful lyrical vignettes.  I was also helped along during this time by being blessed with a live show that took place a mere 25 miles from my home at the time.  I was blown away during their set with the energy and personable nature with which the band took the stage.  And I was not prepared to watch two people paint, on stage, throughout the set.  If I could have afforded the post show auction for the artwork I most definitely would have walked home with a painting (the art auction profits helps finance their live tours).

mp3 : Cloud Cult – No One Said It Would Be Easy
mp3 : Cloud Cult – Journey of the Featherless

In 2010 the band released an EP entitled Running With the Wolves in which they proved that a group of modern musicians can take a masterful song from the likes of Bob Dylan and translate it enough that it becomes their own.  They still play this song live and it is wonderful to hear.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Tamborine Man (Bob Dylan Cover)

Their most recent studio album was released in autumn of 2010 (although they will have a new album out later this year).  Again Cloud Cult did not disappoint.  With the album Light Chasers (amazon) (itunes) the band creates a single narrative piece that is woven throughout all sixteen tracks.  Although some artists would label this a gimmick “concept album” or some other classification I think this album transcends that identity.  Yes there is a meta story going on throughout the album, but each track both furthers that narrative while presenting its own individual identity.  In the end you’re left with a great album that encourages a listener to enjoy the full experience of listening to all of the tracks from start to finish (an increasingly rare attempt in the day of digital single song downloads).

mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Lessons – Exploding People
mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Arrival – There’s So Much Energy In Us

And just recently, as a bonus for those of us who check their website routinely (hoping they will play another show near our home) they posted a masterful cover of the Beatles.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Help (Beatles Cover)

I still stand by my assertion that Cloud Cult is one of the greatest bands that you’ve never heard of.  They are under appreciated and undoubtedly underpaid.  It’s bands like this that inspire me to write again on this aging blog.  It’s bands like this that deserve to still be written about.

+ more Cloud Cult @ twf hype elbows site last.fm amazonmp3 itunes

Streetlight Manifesto covers The Postal Service

This weekend I stumbled upon a great cover of the staple Such Great Heights.  Their take on the classic song from The Postal Service is skewed heavily toward the ska genre and the opening thirty seconds are brilliantly rendered by their horn section.  Honestly my only gripe is that the horns take such a back seat throughout the remainder of the song.  Enjoy.

mp3 : Streetlight Manifesto – Such Great Heights (The Postal Service Cover)

You seriously need to listen to this track.  At least the first thirty seconds or so.  It’s still amazing me after repeat listening.

+ more Streetlight Manifesto @ twf hype elbows site last.fm amazonmp3 itunes

James Vincent McMorrow covers Steve Winwood

A day late and a dollar short is better than never posting at all.  James Vincent McMorrow (think Bon Iver style vocals from across the pond) has covered the Steve Winwood classic Higher Love.  It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it before.

mp3 : James Vincent McMorrow – Higher Love (Steve Winwood Cover)

+ more James Vincent McMorrow @ twf hype elbows site last.fm amazonmp3 itunes

Random Song Dump

A long time ago in our galaxy I used to create monthly lists that I referred to as Best of the Month (BOTM).  Along the way life became more filled and music gathering, curating, and dissemination became more and more pushed to the periphary.  Today as I was cleaning up a personal hard drive I stumbled upon these tracks that at some point I thought worthy of being shared.  So I’ll just dump them here (mostly so I can empty that folder from the drive).

Enjoy the music.

mp3 : Cee Lo – Radioactive (Kings of Leon Cover)
mp3 : Childish Gambino – Break (AOTL)
mp3 : Crooked Fingers – Under Pressure (Queen Cover)
mp3 : Deer Tick – Dirty Dishes (Live on MOKB Radio)
mp3 : Elbow – Running to Stand Still (U2 Cover)
mp3 : Ingrid Michaelson – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley Cover)
mp3 : KiD CuDi (feat Vampire Weekend) – Cudderisback
mp3 : Mochi Beats – Gifted Stop
mp3 : Serena Ryder & The Beauties – The Funeral (Band of Horses Cover)
mp3 : Willy Wonka – Pure Imagination

Yes I understand that “Willy Wonka” above is actually voiced by Gene Wilder, but keeping it as Wonka adds more whimsy to the piece.  And we could all use a little bit of whimsy.  Also the Childish Gambino lyrics are absolutely not safe for work, or really any sort of public consumption, but this is one of the shining examples of his trademark flow.  Same goes for the KiD CuDi track (amazing flow, don’t let your mom hear it).  The Mochi Beats track is a mashup combining too many influences/sources to name (including Glee).

+ more music @ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes

Cloud Cult covers The Beatles

A charity project organized by Vega Productions has a slew of artists covering classic Beatles tracks.  You can buy the entire compilation, Minnesota Beatle Project Vol. 3, on their website.  One of my favorite artists, Cloud Cult, covered the Beatles classic song Help.  It’s recognizable as the original, but  it is also entirely a Cloud Cult concoction.   Quite simply, it is a great cover.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Help (Beatles Cover)

+ more Cloud Cult @ twf hype elbows site last.fm amazonmp3 itunes

Wedding Music vol 10 : Reception

Finally finishing up the list of music that was played in the background during the cocktail and dinner portion of my wedding.  As always, enjoy the music.  If you’re interested in the rest of the list click here.

mp3 : The Ooks of Hazzard – Kids (MGMT Cover)
mp3 : Beirut – After the Curtain
mp3 : Bon Iver – Skinny Love
mp3 : Coldplay – The Scientist

+ more music @ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes

Wedding Music vol 07 : Reception

Another day and another glimpse into my insanely controlled wedding music playlist.  I don’t mean to brag, but I did just receive compliments on my wedding playlist this past weekend.  It’s always good to know that random people appreciate good music as well.  All of these songs were played as background music during the cocktails and dinner.

mp3 : Louis Armstrong – Sittin In The Sun
mp3 : Gary Jules – Mad World (Tears for Fears Cover)
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Hurt
mp3 : Sigur Ros – Inni mer syngur vitleysingur

Yes, I do still listen to this mix.  And yes, you can see all of the wedding music I’ve posted so far by clicking right here.

+ more music @ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
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