Weekly Concert Preview: Cloud Cult’s brand of dreamy pop coming to the Black Cat

Cloud Cult @ Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, MIFor those of you looking for a spectacle, Cloud Cult’s experimental indie pop should provide a fix. This Minnesota band, which is currently on tour following the release of its latest album, will be coming to Black Cat on Apr. 13.

Cloud Cult got its start in 1994, when lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa began work on solo projects in Minneapolis and released his first album The Shade Project. Since then, the band has acquired eight permanent members, including a cellist and a violinist, and has released 10 more albums. The most recent, Love, was released in March.

Although Minowa was offered record deals several times, he chose to found his own label, Earthology Records, with his wife Connie in 1997. Earthology Records is currently based out of Minowa’s organic farm powered by geothermal energy in northern Minnesota. Cloud Cult places heavy emphasis on the need to green the music industry, planting several thousand trees to absorb the band’s CO2 output and touring in a van covered in solar panels. Earthology Records is a nonprofit organization and donates its profits to environmental charities.

Cloud Cult’s sound is eclectic and varied, drawing from art rock and baroque pop. The band’s greatest influence, however, was the death of the Minowa’s two-year-old son in 2002. This loss did not make their music maudlin or depressing, however. It has caused Minowa to focus on “big picture” issues in his song writing and doubtless has contributed to the band’s contemplative sound.

Some tracks, like “My Fictitious Life with Amily,” are strange and dreamy, featuring unidentifiable instrumentals and jarring vocals. Others are smooth and calm, like “You Were Born”, which begins with gentle guitar cords and continues with soft, tender vocals. In contrast, songs like “Complicated Creation” and “1x1x1” are characterized by peppier beats from the drums and the bass.

The show promises not only a diverse range of music and thought-provoking lyrics, but also a true spectacle. Two of the band’s permanent members, Scott West and Connie Minowa, are painters who work live while the band plays. At the end of each show, the paintings they’ve made are auctioned off. Cloud Cult has also been known to include back video screens and performance artists in their shows.

Cloud Cult will play with JBM this Saturday, Apr. 13, at 9:00 p.m. at Black Cat. Tickets are $16 and are available at the door.

Photo: ColorblindRain via Flickr

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