Why Do I Like Cloud Cult?

Because they have a painter who “performs” with them at every one of their shows – painting a picture during the musical performance that is then auctioned off to benefit a local charity.

They offset their carbon footprint by planting trees all over the place (and they record in some super environmentally friendly studio engineered with Ma Earth’s needs in mind).

But mostly I like Cloud Cult because they pull off a very difficult trick – they are adults and their music is wonderfully innocent. You can’t review a Cloud Cult record without writing about the fact that singer Craig Minowa’s son died at a very young age. And to me, the last couple of Cloud Cult albums – last year’s The Meaning of 8 and their new Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) – show Minowa living out this innocent, wonderful childhood that his son never got to experience. He builds the songs to wonderful climaxes with funky layers of instrumentation.

Pitchfork didn’t get this when they reviewed Feel Good Ghosts; but you can’t rely on Pitchfork to understand these things. I mean, yes, “The Tornado Lessons” is pretty annoying, but it’s brief and the last 20 seconds or so are really rewarding. And it’s followed by the utterly lovely “When Water Comes to Life” which is about angels performing an autopsy on a dead baby (could it be Minowa’s kid? It could, at least that’s what I thought about the whole first time I heard the song.  If Minowa is using his bands to heal his wounds, I hope it’s working because dude is making some amazing music in the bargain).

Like The Meaning of 8, Feel Good Ghosts is loosely themed around love and death and the mystery of that whole cycle.  This stuff could be pretty cheesy and maybe it is – Cloud Cult is certainly not the kind of band I would ordinarily like (The Flaming Lips tend to fill my particular wide-eyed wonder niche, thanks) but their music never fails to transport me in some way. The album has plenty of great tracks, the best of which, in my humble opinion, is “Story of the Grandson of Jesus,” where Minowa sings, “Do unto yourself as you’d do unto your neighbor.” I wish more people would take that advice.  As with all Cloud Cult albums, there’s some weird noise mixed in between the really beautiful track, but – like all of their stuff I’ve heard – it’s worth sitting through.

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