Clouder - Sister Raygun - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Clouder - Sister Raygun

by Jim Harris Rating:8 Release Date:2014-03-04

While New York is the city that never sleeps, Brooklyn used to be known as the part of town that took frequent naps, but not musically. The music coming out of there! DIIV, Place to Bury Strangers, Vivien Girls, and now Clouder. A mostly rowdy psych/garage band, they've released their second album on Fleeting Youth Records, Sister Raygun, with an cover featuring a buxom 50s lady who looks like she moonlights as a stand-in in a Buck Rogers movie (Hence the name - Sister Raygun. Not that I’ve ever seen a Buck Rodgers movie…), these five bandmates have put together an interesting mix of well-crafted, for the most part campy garage rock anthems which stand up well through repeated listens.

While none of the guitar progressions have a glossy spit and polish of, say, a DIIV (thankfully), or any of the propulsion and psych-metal fury of A Place to Bury Strangers, the jangly back-and-forth of the guitars provides a raggedy pounding backdrop for one of the more powerful rock voices to be heard in a while. At times creeping low, like Ian Curtis channeling a chipper Jim Morrison (‘Lost in Reverie’), with a mid-range vibrato and edginess that occasionally teeters close to John Lydon in PiL (Opening track ‘Dancing in the Proving Ground’), Eric Gilstrap shows a command of the vocal pipes well beyond his year or so in Clouder. 

Where Clouder is at their best is when they kick into post-punk, up-tempo anthems such as’ Lady Retrograde’ or classic-in-the-making, ‘All the Royal Years Are Gone’. They happily channel the post-garage-punk of The Replacements' Paul Westerberg on this rollicking ode to getting to the top of a stale music scene. Eric comfortably adds that Westerberg angst to his vocals in the chorus: "Roy-roy-royal years gone". 

Add to that ‘Damaged Sun’, which sounds like one of those lazy, power-chording surfer tunes Twerps would have welcomed on their debut album, and you have some great songs, but mainly songs bordering on excellent. Even the one ballad, ‘The Ballad of Sister Raygun’, is a nice sampling of Eric’s potential as an atypical lead singer for this type of band. The only track I have trouble with is ‘Psychic Cities'. When Clouder go heavily into this deliberate, ambitious, sweeping psych-type song, it just seems out of place on such an infectious, jangly, pop-rock little masterpiece. The psych-influenced 'Lost in Reverie', however, works better in the overall context of the album.

Regardless, this is a delightfully listenable collection of garage rock 'n' roll from a band trending upward.

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