Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

April 17th, 2008 - Union Hall, Brooklyn, NY - Cloud Cult w/ The Forms & Arms
Review and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo

Cloud Cult have been one of those bands that I could never quite figure out. I'd hear a song I'd like followed by something that made me cringe. No more so than their cover of Mr. Tambourine man which my favorite radio station, KEXP, in Seattle seems to think is the greatest cover ever. I believe otherwise. But beneath the bocce ball games and book-covered shelves of Union Hall in Brooklyn last Thursday, the quirky sextet's energetic performance won me over. The coziest performance space you're likely to find in Brooklyn, and near capacity, lead singer Craig Minowa led his band through material from Cloud Cult's new album Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), which has been out less than two weeks. Their performances are half concert half spectacle as Minowa's wife, Connie, tucked back into the left corner of the stage, painted on a large square canvas. (The painting was auctioned off for charity after the show.)

Opening were Brooklyn's The Forms, a foursome that specializes in smartly-crafted indie rock. A sound that is equal parts Modest Mouse and defunct Dallas outfit Chomsky, The Forms performed songs from last year's self-titled release and 2003's Icarus. "Knowledge By Hand", the opening track to the new record, highlighted the quick, spirited 45-minute set. A moody bass line backed by punchy guitars and stop-start drumming, Alex Tween screaming his vocals. "Red Gun"(mp3) showcased the band's affinity for vocal harmonies that texture many of their songs. The Forms also dropped a well-placed cover of Nirvana's "All Apologies" into the set. A possible hat-tip to their producer Steve Albini who produced a little record called "In Utero".

Starting off the evening was Arms, the solo project of Todd Goldstein. Catchy tunes with smart turns of phrase, Goldstein (also a guitarist in Brooklyn band Harlem Shakes) reminded me of a cross between two other solo indie rockers John Vanderslice and Jens Lekman. His new record, Kids Aflame, is due in June. The whole set was enjoyable while the title-track (a jaunty little ukulele number) (mp3) and the angry guitar strumming of The Frozen Lake have me excited to see him perform again.

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