steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Clouds Forming Crowns

"Race to the Blackout" CD

Morphius Records

Genres: indie rock, indie pop, lo-fi

November 2006

On their sophomore album, GBV contributors Tim and Todd Tobias have switched in rock for pop, creating a noisy, energetic romp that really strays from their former band's styles. Distanced from their debut, Clouds Forming Crowns take no prisoners on Race To The Blackout, and I'm really enjoying their new take on things. The aural assault starts right from the bat with lo-fi, bass-heavy JSBX-esque scorcher "Phantom Dog Black Water". It takes until the third song until CFC slow down a bit and become more overtly melodic - this one has a GBV touch in the vocals, with a vaguely proggy mood throughout. The rest is a combination of strong rock music and more mid-tempo pop, with "Floating" and the grungy title-track ranking among the most infectious and immediately enjoyable tunes. There is a certain psychedelic mood present here that touches upon a lot of Pollard and co. work, also referencing the likes of Hopewell and Neutral Milk Hotel. For me, the more melodic excursions are definitely preferable to the bassy rock songs, which exude style but don't do much to separate themselves from one another.

As a record, this works surprisingly well, coming off for me as a cross between JSBX's Extra Width and GBV's Under The Bushes, Under The Stars. There's more than enough solid material here for GBV fans and music lovers alike to enjoy - despite some of its songs being a bit one-dimensional, Race to the Blackout sustains multiple, full-album listens.



Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, 38:53, distributed by the label, released 2006]