A Crash Course in Cloud Control
    • THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 2017

    • Posted by: Ally Farrell

    If Cloud Control isn't on your radar, they absolutely should be. The Australian alternative rockers have been making waves in their home country since the release of their debut album, Bliss Release. The band is comprised of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Alister Wright, keyboardist and backing vocalist Heidi Lenffer, and drummer Ulrich Lenffer. The group met at a rehearsal for The Pirates of Penzance, a comedic opera. They entered, and won, their very first Battle of the Bands contest, and released their album shortly after.

    Since their formation in 2007, Cloud Control has made quite a few impressive moves. Their psychedelic rock sound has led them to tour with acts such as Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Weezer, and The Temper Trap. Their third album, Zone, will be released on Friday September 1st. Since that's not a lot of time to completely dedicate yourself to another band, here are some songs you should get to know.

    1. "Scar"


    "Scar" is probably the pop-iest of Cloud Control's tracks. The song opens with a synth line, and is teamed with right-panned guitars and a cheerful bass line. The chorus swells with a more prominent guitars and layers of harmonies that sound like they would fit right in on a Griswolds' track. The bridge section of this song is a pleasant surprise, the guitar and bass drop out, leaving just vocals, piano, drums, and a well-utilized bongo. It's lighter, but never feels like it's less than the rest of the song. The pop music is a nice juxtaposition to the self-scrutinizing lyrics.

    2. "Rainbow City"



    This is the group's first release as a trio after bassist Jeremy Kelshaw left the band in 2013. It's also the band's most Tame Impala-like track. It starts with fuzzy guitars that sound like they were lifted straight from Innerspeaker. As it progresses into the chorus, it gets fuller and more aggressive, but not in a threatening way... It's clear from this song that Cloud Control a lot more confident with themselves as a unit. Wright says "It's a song about losing things," but in losing a member, the trio found their sound.

    3. "Gold Canary"


    "Gold Canary" has all the elements of a Cloud Control song: heavy bass, fuzzy guitar, harmonies from Alister and Heidi, and keyboards at the song's core. How this differs from their other songs is that it makes you work for them. The song begins with chants and a clean guitar line. It has very folky components. That paired with Wright's clear vocal delivery gives the song a very Mumford and Sons, "We're from Portland" vibe. The fuzz doesn't pick up until around the bridge, but even then it's accompanied by handclaps. The song dips back into it's barebones introduction at the end.

    4. "Zone (This Is How It Feels)"


    Conceptually, this song is not like anything else we've heard from Cloud Control. The introduction is just resonating piano chords and a sample of thunder that grows into a synth-melody with rain sounds. The introduction and verse have an almost "Africa" by Toto-vibe. (If you don't know "Africa" please take a moment to listen to it and have your entire life changed.) The chorus is a bizarre wonderland. The melodic instruments, save for vocals and synth, are stripped and replaced with a trap beat. The second verse is sung by Heidi, and her light, airy voice is charming and reassuring, particularly on the line "This is where I want to stay." Cloud Control take another page from Tame Impala's book with a spoken word section similar to "Past Lives" or "Disciples." The influence the fellow Australian psych-rockers have on Cloud Control is clear, but without seeming like essentially a Tame Impala cover band.

    5. "Dojo Rising"



    "Dojo Rising" is a deceptively sad song. Musically, the best word to describe it would be "buoyant." The arpeggiated guitar and background harmonies of the verse sound like they're floating; they carry the song, but don't really move it anywhere fast. That sense of lethargy is carried over into the chorus, it builds slightly, but never lifts to the point you really want it to. Stylistically, it matches the lyrics message of the song, "Give it to me easy / Give it to me hard … / Then I gotta break your heart / Probably should've told you from the start / But I'm lazy / And I don't want anything." And listening to it creates a sense of laziness; the way the song seems to drift is hypnotizing.

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