Say that you live in California and then you are promised an internship with the indie film and cult legend director Hal Hartley in New York. You pack up all your gear, leave your native California and head to the Big Apple only to find out that your internship was given to someone else. Bummer, eh? Well, that’s the story of Cloud Room frontman J (that’s all he goes by). So instead he formed this quartet who on their debut album, showcase their inner intuition and craftiness and as it blends the ’80 s alt scene and sunny California pop. The Cloud Room also takes it’s name from a Prohibition era top-floor speakeasy in the Chrysler building where the prominent folks would drink after a hard days work of robbing people that were sinking deeper into the Great Depression. It was probably a blessing in disguise that J went on to form this newfangled band instead of the internship, seeing as how Hartley’s last two films, The Girl From Monday and No Such Thing, were about as enjoyable as watching paint dry on a wall.
The ’80s thrust of “Hey Now Now” has a rather fetching, Bowie-esque chorus and a strummy guitar that could make some wonder if this song is a more mature and evolved version of Modern English’s “I Melt With You.” They even have a taste for creating some arty pop nuggets on “Waterfalls” with the twizzling synths of keyboardist Ben Nugent that gives the track its own little wall of sound.
But the real sound of waterfalls are the serene “ahhhhhhh”s that trickle down on “Devoured in Peace” as it shines like the light from a cake in the middle of a dark room. If played at the right moment, this song as well as the cool cooing of “O My Love” can get just about any hipster laid.
These boys even sow their New York oats on the veracious groove of “Blowout!”, a song that the Strokes could only wish that they were savvy enough to write. The harmonious handclapping, Queens of the Stone Age type moans, and the indie oscillations make for a delightful number. With all of the sub-genres of New Wave popping their heads up left and right, it’s nice to see a band who can write a song that does justice to the sleek, transient dance pop of the New Romantic movement.
Aptly titled are two songs with the word “sun” in them. J’s voice goes into a velvety tone that sweeps across the spectrum of “Sun Song” which is like spending two whole minutes in the midst of a cool breeze. The beauty of “Sunlight Reprise” is omnipresent in this track which is illuminatingly dreary, like most of the Folk Implosion tracks on the KIDS soundtrack.
The echoing beats of drummer Jason Pharr and the added synth bumps pave the way for a New Order pulse on “Beautiful Mess.” You can bet that the Bravery will be stewing with jealously when they hear this one. Don’t stop shaking your ass just yet! Just wait until you hear some post-punk sprinkled with a hint of a spiky acid house flow on “The Hunger.” The precise rhythm is a result of the solid chemistry that exists between Pharr and bassist Jonathan Petrow.
The Cloud Room even sets foot into the terrain of psychedelic Britpop with the ringing scatter of “Blue Jean,” sounding like a something the Verve would have recorded if they were from America. A clever ditty, indeed.
The Cloud Room show tremendous strength and stamina on their debut. You know how sometimes when you’re shitfaced at a party and a catchy song comes on and right in the middle you say “Oh, I love this part”? That is what every song on this album is like. It is so refreshing yet innovative. It can be mysteriously dark and brilliantly uplifting at the same time. It’s like Interpol if they would just take their Paxil.
Stellastar* – Stellastar*
Echo and the Bunnymen – Crocodiles
British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power