Friday, July 11, 2008


"Feed The Horse"
from We Are Above You (Hydra Head)
Clouds fall somewhere between Clutch and Torche on the “stoner rock with melody and wit” scale, with a bit of Brant Bjork’s loopy humor thrown in (but none of his taste for new wave synth sounds—go find a copy of Brant Bjork & The Operators, like, right now). Their last release, The Legendary Demo, ought to have engendered more ill will than it did, given that it included an uncredited (and retitled) cover of Frank Zappa’s “Willie The Pimp,” not to mention a long-ass saxophone solo. But as both the Stooges and George Thorogood have ably demonstrated, there’s plenty of room for saxophones in rawk.

There is no saxophone on “Feed The Horse.” There is a big (one might almost call it Mountain-ous) beat and a thunderous, desert-rock riff that shifts slightly after about a minute, becoming something Fugazi might have played, had they been stoners. If all guitar solos are ultimately about establishing bragging rights, the one offered here is more “check out my awesome pedal” than “look how fast I can move my fingers.” The vocalist has too much command of his upper range, and not nearly enough lumberjack-drowning-in-his-own-phlegm gurgh for this music, though. He sounds like he’s singing instead of dying of TB, and the stoner masses can be unforgiving about stuff like that.

Not like they’ll care: Clouds are a band of many moods. We Are Above You offers crushing Melvins-like riffola on “Empires In Basements” and “Motion Of The Ocean,” but “The Bad Seat” is a piano-led stroke-job that, placed alongside the droney dream-psych of “Glass House Rocks,” would have the members of Panic At The Disco thinking they could pants these guys on the playground. Oh, and the last track on the album, “Garbage In, Garbage Out” ends with 10 minutes of silence and a little bit of nothing, ’cause that was so fucking cool and unexpected back in the ’90s. [Click here to read this review again, and listen to the song, or even download it if you want.]

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