The Black Clouds – Going Places
I got a chance to speak with Dan Matthews this week about what the band has been up to. He handed me a four-song, self-titled EP. The Black Clouds have been on the scene since 2004, and their 2008 debut disc, Wishing Well, put them on the fast track of New Jersey original rock royalty. The Black Clouds played Bamboozle in 2008 and followed with a self-funded, self-booked U.S. tour in 2009, which saw them hitting 25 shows in 30 days. Another short tour—again funded and booked entirely by the band—followed in 2010, when they hit the road for SXSW and back.
Comprised of guitarists/vocalists Dan Matthews, guitarist Neil Hayes, bassist Gary Moses and drummer Cory King, The Black Clouds returned leaner and louder with their 2012 release, Better Days. Produced, recorded, and funded entirely by the band, Better Days was recorded over the period of one month and mixed by alternative rock legend, John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, and Hold Steady). The album abides by three driving principles: Play loud. Play hard. Leave every post-modern music trend quivering in the dust. And they’ve always scored well in those areas.
The band’s latest sampler disc is produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden) along with band leader Dan Matthews. Recorded at Studio 606 in Los Angeles, California, the self-titled disc is a preview of bigger things to come in the spring/summer.
Along with a new full-length, Dan Matthews has also been instrumental in the production and arrangement of You Cant Kill Rock N’ Roll, the compilation disc created to raise money for Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers. Eddie had recently undergone surgery and followed up for his battle against stage three oropharynx cancer. That disc was produced by Matthews along with Johnny Graziadei (Jack Endino, Kandi Coded) and mastered by Jack Endino at Soundhouse, Seattle. Contributors to the disc include The Black Clouds, as well as Jack Endino, Mudhoney, Supersuckers, The Derelicts, The Ribeye Brothers and many others. Released on Capacitor Records, You Cant Kill Rock N’ Roll has already helped raise substantial funds in the fight to help Eddie regain his health.
Between studio jaunts and writing new songs, The Black Clouds also found time to tour this year and are finally back in the area and ready for the holidays. But before we discuss their next live appearance, I wanted to go through the disc and leave you with my impressions about the direction and the songs themselves.
First up is a song called “Photograph.” “Photograph” is also the cut that landed on the Eddie Spaghetti disc. Kicking straight into the meat of the matter, The Black Clouds utilize their bombastic style of raw, ripping rock sounds to great avail. Guitarists Matthews and Hayes have perfected their dual six-string attack like no one else I know. Born from the blazing raw styles of Pat Smear, Bob Stinson and Kurt Cobain, they take on equal parts of sonic blitz action and compositional expertise. Bassist Gary Moses and drummer Cory King back up their grungy action with depth and style. Matthews’ vocals, joined by the background singing from the rest of the guys, are powerful and toned, putting the perfect icing on this very rock and roll cake.
Up next is the vamp-induced muscle of “Vice.” The Black Clouds combine power with passion on this punk-tinged rocker. Once again guitars cut through the wall of sound quite well and take the lead in this high output tune. The middle-eight lead is both melodic and dynamic; running down a pentatonic pattern of Chuck Berry meets Steve Jones as the band holds the meter in the down and dirty range of bands such as Foo Fighters and Soundgarden. Matthews’ lead vocals command attention and his lyrical expertise shines brightly on “Vice.”
“Self Control” is up next. Featuring smooth and infectious choruses, “Self Control” explores the state of denial and the aftereffects of said state. Bass and drum work from Moses and King is four on the floor vicious as Matthews and Hayes fly over the top of this frenetic number. Matthews’ vocal prowess once again takes this song to high levels of interaction and if this is anything like the rest of the disc coming in the spring, it’s going to be a great rock record.
“Sayonara” is the final song on this sampler and it’s a screamer. In the upper range of speed, “Sayonara” rips into the speakers with all the moxie of anything Cobain ever brought to the table in his all-too-short time with us. Matthews’ vocals are raw and keyed in well, reminding me of Chris Cornell back in the early days. Moses starts things off with a growling bassline before the band chimes in with their honed brand of musical cacophony. Matthews and Hayes tear it up throughout the whole short song with rock and roll panache.
The Black Clouds have always succeeded with their raucous brand of raw and ripping rock, and this sample tease leaves me with great expectations for the full-length due out this spring. And don’t forget to check them out at their next live appearance which takes place on Jan. 15 at Pianos in New York City as part of Speak Into My Good Eye’s first 2016 Pianos showcase. Joining The Black Clouds will be Crazy & The Brains, Those Mockingbirds, Dead Stars and Darkwing. For more information on The Black Clouds, head over to theblackclouds.com.
Dark City Entertainment Brings Another ’90s New Year’s Concert To The Stone Pony For New Year’s Eve!
Christine Feola and Dark City Entertainment are bringing you another ’90s New Year’s tomorrow night on Dec. 31 at The Stone Pony with some of the best local bands covering our favorite ’90s acts!
This year, Lost In Society will be covering The Offspring, The Cold Seas as The Smashing Pumpkins, Accidental Seabirds as Alice In Chains, YJY as Oasis, The Black Clouds, Dentist and Chemtrail as The Pixies and The Matt Wade Band playing a mixture of your favorite ballads as The One Hit One-ers.
Doors are at 8 p.m., advance tickets are $17, at the door $20. This is an all-ages show. For more information, head over to The Stone Pony website for the info. That site is stoneponyonline.com.