I'm not exactly sure how I found out about Cloud Cult - what website or who introduced me to the wonder of my favorite band. (After Rush. Of course.) All I know is that I've loved everything they've done for half a decade now.
While my love of most indie music is something that's come about in the last year or so, even when I was in the midst of my most brütal hëavy mëtal moments of life, I've still been able to listen to Cloud Cult and find joy, honesty, and the truths of human emotions laid bare. They're not your typical indie band, not one that you'd imagine all those hipster kids from New York listening to - there's something fundamentally different about their music, from their harmonies to their deceptively simple seeming guitar work.
The Meaning of 8 is no exception. Until Monday of this past week when they released their newest album, Light Chasers, on their website, I would've told you it was their very best album. It's full of catchy songs, lilting melodies, a message about overcoming and the everlasting nature of love, and it's just a wonder to behold. Since 2000 and the passing of lead singer / guitarist / keyboarder / songwriter Craig Minowa's son, their music had tended towards melancholy, but with this release, they strike a happy balance between the sadness that's obviously still there (especially in songs such as "Your 8th Birthday", written for the boy on what would've been that day), but there's a sense of hope and faith in the future here, too.
I love this record. It's got some of my favorite Cloud Cult tunes on it - from the unique love musings of "Chemicals Collide" to the melancholy of "Dance for the Dead" to the beautiful tragedy of "A Girl Underground" to the poignant "The Deaf Girl's Song". It's hard to even point out one thing that's out of place on this disc - it's nineteen tracks of perfection.
Every Cloud Cult album is a listening event - and this one, specifically, is a marvel.
Final Verdict: Adore it (and pick up everything else they've ever done, too - especially their brand new one)
My brother is on a quest. A quest to cure me from my Philistine ways. Such it is with this latest selection.
Cloud Cult scratches the indie-but-not-dirty-hipster itch very well. The music is slick and polished, without the need to appear rough and raw (like too much indie music). This album is replete with happy moments without being saccharine. The music is a vehicle, not a weapon. A vehicle to gently propel the listener on to the end.
In these ways, the album succeeds.
However, for it to succeed for the individual, you need to have that itch that needs to be scratched. And, frankly, I don't. It would appear I have no indie itch. That doesn't surprise me. So in the end, this was a brief diversion, but that is all.
Final verdict: Explore it (if you find you have an indie itch, scratch with this, not some of the other absolute dreck that is out there)