Lockwood Barr and a Cloud Control Review

I "discovered" Cloud Control this week.  According to Christopher Columbus, I can claim them for Spain and force them to mine my gold and farm my crops.
I “discovered” Cloud Control this week. According to Christopher Columbus, I can claim them for Spain and force them to mine my gold and farm my crops.

Hey everybody,

One of the benefits of hosting The VU Backstage for a year is that you develop friendships and solid connections with the artists you invite on the show.  This is especially nice when you are scrambling for a guest for the show on the day of.  You call up a friend–in this case Lockwood Barr–and you do the show.  And the interview is easy because there’s already an established rapport there, making conversation a delight and bringing more personality out of both you and the guest.

That was what happened last night.  Lockwood and I had fun discussing everything from her new band and extensive tour plans to The Catcher in the Rye and gourmet cooking.  It was fittingly awkward when I whiffed on two straight Napoleon Dynamite references, but there was also substantive insight into Lockwood’s songwriting and attitude towards music.  Of course, there was also the music itself, which was fantastic.  You can catch the full show here.

In other news, I discovered a new band (for me, at least; you’ve probably heard of them for a few years).  Generally, I look to the past for my music; Rush, the Beatles, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with John Frusciante are my three favorite bands.  Any current music I consume has to be introduced to me by someone else, either because a recommendation is a sure sign that a band is worth my time or because I am too lazy to seek out the music myself.  Luckily, I work at WRVU and cannot avoid being introduced to new and unfamiliar music.

This week, it was through reviewing a CD to be added to our music library.  The LP was Dream Cave by Australian psychedelic-indie-folk-pop band Cloud Control and it consisted of eleven ambient, reverb-saturated, catchy tracks.  Normally I am not a fan of this genre of music.  I look down my nose at whiny, echoey, octave-harmony vocals and songs without riffs or hummable hooks.  But there is something different about this album, and it lies in the well-written, singable melodies.  Songs like “Dojo Rising” and “Moonrabbit” feature an atmospheric arrangement with swirling guitars and laid-back drums but aren’t so chill that they become lethargic.  On top of this wall of sound, singer Alister Wright drones nasally but not unpleasantly, complimenting the music with natural lines of musical thought.  The melodies fit perfectly with the background but stand out enough to get to stuck in your head.  What I like most about Dream Cave, though, is that Cloud Control shows that it is capable of rocking out just as easily as laying back.  The song “Promises” sounds like grunge rock on its antidepressant meds, and the whole album has a carefree, dreamy attitude.  It’s as if the sun decided to shine inside the British caves where the album was recorded.  The sound of dripping stalactites permeates the last couple tracks and can be heard between some of the other songs, making this a sort of concept work.  Below is the music video for “Scar,” one of the singles off the album.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzLYf366bVg&w=560&h=315]

This is only Cloud Control’s second album, and I expect big things out of this group.  They utilize a balance of guitars and synths that is pleasing to both rock aficionados and dance music lovers, overlay this with vocals that get stuck in your head, and add a touch of psychedelia to the overall sound.  This is a band I will be tracking; it will be interesting to see if the Pacific Ocean is a significant obstacle to their popularity in America.

That’s all for this week.  We have a guest lined up for Sunday already: Keith Berquist!  He’ll be talking about his new band and playing some new songs.  Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

-DJ Zach