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Clouds Forming Crowns

Clouds Forming Crowns

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Album Review

Although he previously spent time in Cleveland rock outfits such as 4 Coyotes and Gem, Tim Tobias is probably best known for his time playing bass in the alcohol-fueled touring machine Guided by Voices. (In 2005 he was unceremoniously deleted from GbV history by James Greer's authorized GbV biography, A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll.) Having parted ways with Guided by Voices shortly before the band retired, Tobias re-emerged as a singer and guitarist for Bloom. The group shifted lineups and was renamed Clouds Forming Crowns. CFC's eponymous debut effort is comprised of material collected over the course of a few years. As a result, it sometimes lacks the cohesiveness of a proper album, with momentum ebbing and flowing throughout. Admirably, the album's strongest attribute is how little it sounds like Guided by Voices. This may be the thing that alienates Clouds Forming Crowns from the Guided by Voices fan base, but it's also the characteristic that will help the band find its own niche and persona. Tobias' vocals often lean toward a shaky Keith Richards rasp and howl, while the music itself conjures everything from Neil Young to Thin Lizzy to the Velvet Underground. Forays into moody psychedelia provide a fitting counterpoint to the band's penchant for jangling layers of guitar. Surrealistic, sometimes mysterious lyrical turns add a vivid dream-like quality to the psychedelic numbers, never straying into the tired realm of hippiedom. Song titles such as "Forest of Twins" and "Poppies to the Wake" offer a glimpse into the band's colorful world. Rooted in classic rock, with an eye toward experimentation, this is a strong debut from a group of music veterans. Clouds Forming Crowns offers a slightly updated take on retro-rock that is refreshing in its lack of garage rock posturing or indie rock trend-hopping. Now that the backlog has been cleared, perhaps the next album will feel like a proper album rather than a mere collection of beefed-up demos. ~ Karen E. Graves, Rovi

Clouds Forming Crowns, Clouds Forming Crowns
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