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A review of...
Zen Summer by Cloud
Second LP from Crackle Feedback's "Best Album of 2013" winner
Cloud entered the consciousness of a select few of us when he (that is Mr Cloud himself, Tyler Taormina) released the really quite wonderful Comfort Songs back in 2013. Since then it's been mainly radio silence on the Cloud front, but now, out of the blue he's back with a new, more introspective set of songs that deal with the "stat of flux" he experienced after recording that first record. Right from the outset there's a more focused and, musically, more competent feel to these songs. This also makes for a more polished record which, depending on your outlook, will be a slight improvement or a slight hindrance. One thing is for sure though, these are songs which manage to combine unusual structures and techniques with classic pop hooks and guitar lines which could backfire badly in the wrong hands. Here however, it works in a way that not many other artists have managed over the years (think of Super Furry Animals, The Polyphonic Spree and The Flaming Lips as fellow exceptions to this rule). These quirks, combined with a constant natural ambiance (there seems to be lots of weather based field recordings) actually make Zen Summer come across like a concept album of sorts. There's a mesmeric quality to the sequencing which feels like you're listening to one long eccentric opera. It's probably fair to say that Cloud hasn't yet had the due attention he deserves, but now that he's proved he's no one trick pony it would be unjust if that wider acclaim isn't just around the corner.
"Sunshine Psych" - Tyler Taormina has recently relocated to LA and on this aptly titled tune you can almost feel the rays of sunshine peeking through the Cloud(s). The results are pure joyfulness.
"Luana" - decidedly odd, undoubtedly poppy, this is the sort of song that places Cloud a cut above just about every other weird indie outfit around.
"Sleepy Giant Speak" - tables get turned on this track which starts off with what, for most songs, would be the epic spine-tingling refrain, but here Taormina chooses to flippantly give it away as a mere hors d'oeuvre.