Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cloud Cult - Pretty Voice

I’m not done talking about Cloud Cult!

A reoccurring theme throughout multiple Cloud Cult songs is innocence. I would not describe this said innocence as childish or naive in narration, nor would I describe this innocence as ignorance or immature in subject matter. Much like everything else Cloud Cult, this innocence is something of wonderment and joy, the wonder and joy of life. Perhaps it is easier to capture the beauty of the world through the eyes of youth.

Most people view age and experience as a negative in regards to happiness. Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” is a classic rock song that explicitly states that growing up and become “logical” robs us our innocence and therefore happiness, and that is just one of many musical examples we could call upon to show this message. Craig Minowa appears to offer us an alternative way of thinking to such notions. So many of his songs are about unravelling the mystery of ourselves and the world we live in and there is always an excitement coupled with blissfulness upon what we discover.

This is perhaps best seen in the song “Transistor Radio” an awe inspiring song about growing up and using the highly unique metaphor of grandfather’s voice heard through a transistor radio leading his grandson on an adventure. Learning and growing is seen as fun and exciting for the first two verses and only in the third is felt as a struggle the reward, and wisdom of it all, is just around the bend

“Transistor Radio” is an amazing song but this review is about another song.

Cloud Cult - Transistor Radio - An excellent fan made video

I can only assume that Craig and Connie, were very loving parents, and their connection to their lost son clearly weighs heavily upon their influences of their creativity. While alive, Craig’s son had wondered into his father’s studio and began to speak into the microphone while his father played, almost like he instinctively knew what the microphone was for, Craig naturally kept all these recordings. After his son’s death all these sounds they had created together in the chicken coop recording studio was all that remained of his lost son. So locked in the studio was the only place Craig could still be with his son, a very unique experience for someone to go through to say the least. Craig coped with his loss this way until he released some of the tracks he had made with his son’s voice and universities across the country started to play his music and Craig knew what was happening, he had found a way to share his son’s soul with the world. He could now be with his son everywhere, not just the studio. The song most directly inspired by Minowa’s son has to be his take on “My Little Sunshine” and as relevant as a song as this is, it is not the one I wish to focus on.

Cloud Cult - My Little Sunshine

There is a very beautiful sentiment Minowa shares with us in the DVD “No One Said It Would Be Easy,” he states that energy can never be destroyed so all the love and positive energy you send out into the universe just keeps going and going forever. In this way his son and all the love he shared with him now lives forever in the positive energy he has shared with all of us. He tries to be scientific about it, and you can challenge him however you want on the realism of this statement but I find impossible to refute the intelligence of such a life lesson.

There is a very clever story telling maneuver being performed by Craig Minowa in his song writing which he expresses so naturally I suspect he is not entirely aware of his own genius. Every story, and every song, needs a starting point, and childhood is an instantly identifiable and universal understood origin point. In a majority of Cloud Cult songs it is not overly obvious there is a childlike approach being used, but once you see in plainly once like in a song like “Transistor Radio” you begin to see it everywhere. The adjectives Minowa uses are so splendidly unique, almost like a child, with an incredible vocabulary, is trying to describe something they are seeing for the very first time. This, among other things is one of the reasons I love the song “Pretty Voice.”

First of all the lyrics are just odd enough to make you laugh a little but more importantly they make you wonder. The message seems simple enough, missing someone’s pretty voice, but that’s only the base message, there are great references to magical people and things that make the imagination just run wild.

Cloud Cult - Pretty Voice (Live at 89.3 The Current)

"A scene begins,
With our next melody,
Sung by a bashful bird,
Humming a violet sky.
There are no words,
But there is understanding.
It's been so long...
Since I've heard that pretty voice.

Raise up our lights,
And enter hero girl.
She makes me calm,
Yeah she makes me calm.
When she hears a song,
And she starts singing.
It's been so long...
Since I've heard that pretty voice.

Strike up the band,
Here comes the storyline,
Of the usual struggle,
Between fear and love.
This is the lifelong song,
We're all singing.
It's been so long...
Since I've heard that pretty voice.

Now it begins,
I miss your hollering,
But you're so sure,
Such a bashful bird.
Here's a song,
But no one's singing.
It's been so long...
Since I've heard your pretty voice."

Who the hell is hero girl? Because I would love to know, she sounds amazing! Also the usual struggle between fear and love, he’s right, we are all singing, what a perfect way to describe all relationships ever in a single sentence. “Pretty Voice” is the sort of song that I cannot imagine of a person who would not be able to feel attached to these lyrics. Minowa is right when no one’s singing along, the messages and feelings we share, seen in an incalculable numbers of songs, we are all singing.

Lastly, the true test of a band is their ability to perform live, and there is a reason why I posted the primary video link to Cloud Cult performing “Pretty Voice” live 89.3 The Current studios. This live version is somehow even better than the original, and not even by a small margin. This live performance is one of the single best things I have ever heard.

Well, I hope I made myself clear by now. Cloud Cult is indie rock’s best kept secret and every day you ignore them and ignore me telling you to stop ignoring them your life is poorer for it.

- Colin Kelly

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