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Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult is my dream team of musical sounds: beautiful pop builds, microbeats and atmospheric instrumentations, disco-dance-dynamics, Cure throwbacks, lyrics that question our relationship to nature and death, and string arrangements that well up, all blended together in continuously unpredictable ways.

"These days, it's hard to tell what's half asleep and fully alive," sings songwriter and Cloud Cult leader Craig Minowa on "Chemicals Collide"; some bands these days sound completely unconscious compared to Cloud Cult (especially when you factor in Cloud Cult's innovative environmentalism). The Meaning of 8, the Minneapolis-based band's fifth full-length, is wave after wave of intelligent, artful songwriting. It's dense, raw and fully alive--and should be played as loud as possible.

Amazing moments fill this album: There's the start-stop rhythmic progression of "Chain Reaction," the mournful wail of "Your 8th Birthday," the turntable mixing on "Shape of 8," the spinning euphoria of "Take Your Medicine," the tribal rhythms on "Alien Christ," and finally the moment on "A Good God" when Minowa counts to five, and then the song just stops. And then starts again. And then stops. And then starts and stops again. On "Everywhere All at One Time," after voices and bird chirps and calls create a rising muffle of a sound, you hear a voice say "I want to be everywhere all at one time." All at one time, The Meaning of 8 goes everywhere and finds center and focus.

More by Annie Holub

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