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Clouds On Strings - For You, for Me, for the Sake of a Name CD (album) cover


Clouds On Strings

Eclectic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Clouds On Strings are a new American band who seem to have diverse influences, both old and new. This is their first album which I listened to on their Bandcamp site. I'm surprised that nobody has at least rated this yet. It's a good album and gets better the more I listen to it. The line-up consists of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and violin. The guitarist and the bassist both sing. The music on this album sounds like a mix of old school prog and some more modern rock influences.

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a concept album or not, but judging from the artwork and song titles, you would almost think so. "For You, For Me" is a short instrumental. It opens with crowd noises and then goes into 1950s style mellow rock. Nice tremoloed guitar. Short but sweet. "Gameshow Jesus" starts out a rockin' song with some great violin. Then it goes into a groove with handclaps as well as synth and guitar trading licks. All of a sudden piano and vocals appear. Almost sounds like Joe Jackson. Nice mellow rock. Later gets more rockin'. I like how it almost goes reggae near the end before morphing into hard rock. More symphonic sounding at the end.

"Thin Lizard Dawn" begins laid-back and melodic. Then some gong and then vocals and atmospheric synths. Changes to a hard rock part before a great riff on modified bass. The music now gets almost prog metal sounding. Then changes to some kind of polka(!). Later on a slow paced rockin' part that reminds me of the Walkmen. "Onward To The Ravine" has a nice mix of banjo, synth and fast hi-hat along with vocals at first. Gets slightly jazzier. Good guitar playing later on. In the middle is just guitars and vocals. Then drums join in. Later chorused guitar and some harmony back-up vocals. Some slow marching type drumming before some drum fills.

"The Ranger" opens with percussion and then a funky groove and vocals. Cool cowbell. Awesome synth sounds here. The synth plays in unison with the vocals at times. The song does a start/stop thing in the middle with some good organ. Two different vocalists here. Near the end it switches to a Floyd sounding blues-rock part. Includes some shredding style playing during the guitar solo. False ending. "The Iconoclast" picks up where the last song left off with the same section but now with vocals, including some echoed. After an instrumental break the tempo increases slightly when the vocals return. Later just cool synth sounds and guitar. Some backwards something can be heard. Finishes with the same Floydian blues-rock part.

"Kings & Queens" starts with a heavy riff and then intricate keyboard playing. Goes into a mid-paced song with vocals. Goes back to the heavy riff with echoed yelling. In the middle is some good guitar, piano and drumming. Later a polka-type beat and vocals mimicing the guitar. You hear the crowd from the first song and then some lovely symphonic string- synths that get stopped, echoed and then sped up. This album unfortunately is very short at under 33 minutes, but sometimes a short album can be better than a longer one.

The sound and production is really well done. The compositions are very good. The playing is decent but nothing really stands out. It's really hard to describe what these guys sound like (hence their inclusion in Eclectic I presume). You will just have to listen for yourself. A really good first effort, I'll give this a 3.5 but round it up to 4 stars.

Report this review (#386911)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars CLOUDS ON STRINGS is a modern day prog rock band that formed in 2009 at California State University at Chico by a bunch of music majors. The band includes Michael Bone (guitar, vocals), Randall Jangula (bass, vocals), Josh Hegg (keyboards), Matt Weiner (violin) and Matt Franklin (drums) and are known for an eclectic mix of prog styles that find influences in everything old and many things new and are also said to put on a rather stellar live show with particular emphasis on keyboards and violins.

With three albums to date the band cranked them out in a three year period with this debut FOR YOU, FOR ME, FOR THE SAKE OF A NAME leading the pack in 2009. This is a loosely themed concept album that deals with fame and ignorance and like many similar albums is designed to be experienced as a whole. The album has seven tracks which roughly hover around the 4 to 7 minute mark with nothing exceedingly lengthy however one of the key attribute of CLOUDS ON STRINGS is that the compositions meander a bit without repetition which creates a rather murky distinction between tracks.

Musically this really is a mixed bag. The sounds range from light airy folk to heavy Crimsonian inspired guitar heft along with a haunting violin sound that permeates the softer and heavier sections alike. While the heavy sections can be laced with distortion and pseudo-metal bombast, the music generally simmers on mid-tempo mode with jazzy chord progressions and off-kilter meanderings into strange unrelated passages threatening to derail the compositional flow but somehow the CLOUDS ON STRINGS salvages the impending train wreck with the sheer will to steer the listener's attention into another groovy melodic riff.

Trying to make comparisons isn't easy with CLOUDS ON STRINGS. Actually they sound more like an indie rock band that got a little artsy with a flair of eclecticism like a mix of Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire with all the compositions teased out into more extensive meanderings through the prog universe. Guitarist / vocalist Michael Bone delivers decent guitar riffs but his vocals are little on the tenderly reserved end of the spectrum and seems to keep the music from spiraling out into rough and tumble extremism. The keyboards of Josh Hegg offer subtle variations that create the proper atmospheres to keep the guitar whether they are chugging rock or soft lush folk from falling into tedium.

This is one of those bands where every member constitutes the sum of the whole and no one really steps out of line to deliver any sort of virtuosity. Sometimes both the keys and guitars threaten to break into solos but they never really get beyond simmer. Overall this is a rather subdued sort of prog that is on chill out through its entire run with only a few outbursts of energy however the interesting complexities of weaving classical, hard rock, jazz and even country elements into the music keeps it from getting stagnant.

Overall, CLOUDS ON STRINGS delivered a decent but unremarkable debut with FOR YOU, FOR ME, FOR THE SAKE OF A NAME. In many ways this band reminds me of Phish because it seems sort of like a jam band yet the compositions are much more complex than anything Phish conjured up but it has that amateurish DIY college student feel to the whole thing where there is a deliberate attempt to keep things from sounding to professionally slick. Ultimately the problem with this album despite the excellent instrumental interplay is that nothing really stands out as memorable and add to that the fact that Bone's vocal style is rather bland and the album never feels like it reached its potential. A decent effort but not one that beckons me for return visits. The last album came out in 2011 so i'm not sure if this band is still active or not.

Report this review (#2219852)
Posted Monday, June 10, 2019 | Review Permalink

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