Back in 2004, an unknown art-rock band from Canada called Arcade Fire released its debut album, “Funeral,” on a small North Carolina-based label called Merge Records. The album went crazy, earned a Grammy nomination, and sold more than 300,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Today, Arcade Fire headlines major festivals around the country.
What few fans may now recall is that the success of Arcade Fire reflected the less heralded success of Pitchfork, a grassroots online music review site that, by 2004, had become the most revered source of music criticism for the under-40 set. Pitchfork’s editors were the first to champion Arcade Fire’s record, and the band says the site’s review spawned all the success that followed.
So when Pitchfork champions another left-field act – and goes so far as to compare it to Arcade Fire – we should probably all take notice.
That act is Cloud Cult, a Minnesota-based sextet that performs sweeping emo pop laced with crunchy electronic noise and dreamy harmonies.
Pitchfork called the band’s album, “Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus,” a work of “insane genius…melding folk, electronics, Arcade Fire emo, and quasi-hippie hoobajoo.”
That was back in 2004. Since then, plenty of other influential publications have gotten on the band’s bandwagon. The band’s 2008 album, “Feel Good Ghosts,” was hailed as one of the year’s ten best by critics at the Onion, the Denver Post, and the L.A. Times. It’s easy to hear why: Shifting effortlessly between classical instrumentals, disheveled folk-rock ditties, and soaring rock anthems, the album feels like a mix-tape love note to the unbounded Napster generation.
Every song at the band’s Myspace page is worth a careful listen. Here’s a nice eye-candy video of one of their songs, “Chemicals Collide.”
For those not intrigued by the band’s music, their shows always promise other intrigue. The band tours with two visual artists, who create paintings during each show – paintings which are then sold after the show is over.
Join the believers when Cloud Cult performs at the Other Side on Wednesday, May 6, at the Other Side. Fellow Minneapolis act Ice Palace will also perform a set.