Saturday, May 19, 2007

Recent Release: Future Clouds & Radar

One of my favorite purchases of the past year, and one that's been blaring through my headphones nonstop this past week. Future Clouds & Radar (which is apparently both the name of the album and the ostensible artist) is the work of Robert Harrison, who previously played with underground power pop band Cotton Mather. (Never heard that band, and their albums are out of print, but they've got a rap as an uncannilly Lennon-esque underappreciated act.) I read about the new project from the good folks at Not Lame, your home for ALL the finest in indie/power pop (though, oddly enough, when I just went looking for the link to this album on their site it came up empty -- but you can buy it through all your favorite online retailers). I bought it on a lark, based on a couple 15-second samples, a practice which has often led me to pick up some really crappy (or at least unimpressive) power pop albums in the past, as even the worst examples of the genre can have a few catchy choruses suitable for sampling buried in an otherwise mediocre album. But this time the album lived up to the hype & the samples.

It's hard to describe, but I suppose it would fall somewhere along the lines of Beatlesque baroque-pop, perhaps somewhere between Jason Falkner and XTC. But it's also a sprawling, eclectic 2-cd affair, giving Harrison room to stretch out and do whatever strikes his fancy. Not surprisingly, this doesn't always work to his favor, and there is some experimental dreck he fails to pull off, and some tunes take too long to find their groove, burying what might otherwise have been a nifty two-minute power pop anthem. Plus, though it's got it's share of hooks, there are very few stand-alone tracks that have you immediately feeling an overwhelming need to throw them onto your mix tape (although there are a couple of those). Instead, it's about an hour-long artsy pop experience. Picture Robert Schneider (Apples in Stereo) and Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices) locked in a well-equipped high-end home studio desperately trying to recreate the White Album from scratch. On second thought, it doesn't sound like that at all, but it's not an unfair characterization. Anyway, check out the samples on Amazon and see what you think. Very cool (if flawed) piece of work.

P.s.: checking out links for this post, came across a listing for a recently-released Jason Falkner album on Amazon, but apparently it's currently available only as a high-priced Japanese import. Sure hope it gets picked up for domestic release soon.


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