Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

CLOUD CULT

Unplug

2014-04-12

Unplug showcases Cloud Cult's material amassed from their nine album discography in a raw and intimate setting and with a fully acoustic sound. The album consists of 17 cuts recorded over three evenings last year (December 6-8) at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. The arrangements feature a heavy emphasis on a deep, warm string section paired with gang vocals/harmonies. Many of the songs serve as an avenue for frontman Craig Minowa to perform stripped down versions of his songs, supported by the depth of his band - with 7 other voices and 11 other instruments, he has all the help he needs.

Many of these tracks are lullabies of sorts, with a tried and true formula appearing in many of them: Minowa's voice and guitar being the primary focus for the first part of the song, and then an ascending dynamic of accompaniment arises with strings and the addition of backing vocals. Good examples of this are "You Were Born," "Responsible," and "Pretty Voice." "Journey of the Featherless" presents Minowa with no accompaniment at all, his voice and minimal fingerpicking starkly exposed, which provides for a very personal and pure performance of the Feel Good Ghosts cut. However, not all are Minowa-centric - songs like "Running With the Wolves" and "Chemicals Collide" make perfect use of the band's seasoned harmonizing, while the last two tracks ("Complicated Creation" and "No One Said it Would Be Easy") are satisfying, big songs that brim with raucous energy and are impossible not to tap your foot along to. Ultimately, if Unplug can be a sleeper at moments, it shows us an unfiltered and acoustic approach to original renditions of Cloud Cult's warm discography.

Recommended Tracks: #8 "Running With the Wolves", #16 "Complicated Creation", #17 "No One Said it Would Be Easy"

Sig Steiger

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