Antithodoxy

Cloud Cult: Cambridge, MA 11/13/08

Cloud Cult Cloud Cult is one of those bands that you need to see live to fully appreciate. I’ve been listening to The Meaning of 8 and Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) ever since I first read about the band on the music blog The World Forgot. Cloud Cult’s music is beautiful, eclectic, and brimming with hope and optimism. Many of the songs were written as a way for Craig Minowa to deal with the unexpected death of his son Kaidin in 2002. On the band’s website, Connie Minowa writes, “Cloud Cult is a uniquely beautiful entity created and shaped by my husband Craig. Many of Cloud Cult’s songs are intensely personal to me. They are literally our journey through grief and loss. I find sadness and beauty in them and look forward to each new song and look forward to each new day.” Through his suffering, Minowa created passionate, uplifting music with honest, insightful lyrics. The band has enjoyed critical acclaim and, judging by the crowd at the Middle East Downstairs earlier this month, has a devoted following. The band members are also extremely environmentally aware and release their albums through Earthology Records, a non-profit environmental record label created by Craig Minowa in 1998. They tour in a bio-diesel van, carbon offset their tour, and use recycled paper for their CD liner notes.

I was expecting an amazing performance when I went to see the band for the first time on November 13, and the show definitely met my expectations. The band opened with “Light At The End Of The Tunnel” from their 2005 album Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus. They sang a variety of songs, including beautiful renditions of “Chemicals Collide” and “Everybody Here Is A Cloud,” which the crowd loved. Other highlights included “Journey of the Featherless,” one of my favorites, “Love You All,” a very sweet and uplifting song, “Story Of The Grandson Of Jesus,” which the audience energetically sang along with, and “The Tornado Lessons,” an intense song that was incredible to hear live.

Cloud Cult’s energy and passion was matched by the audience, who cheered, danced and sang throughout the set. At one point, I had to reposition myself for fear of getting clobbered by an enthusiastic couple dancing in front of me. Craig Minowa was visibly happy and appreciated the enthusiasm of the band’s followers, telling the crowd that it was awesome to hear us singing louder than him. He recounted a story of the band playing at a small venue in Boston when they were first starting out, and he seemed grateful to have come this far and to have people appreciate his music. When the band left the stage at the end of the set, the audience began loudly chanting “encore, encore” until the band happily reappeared for another two songs, closing with “Take Your Medicine.”

Throughout the show, Connie Minowa, who Craig referred to as the love of his life, and Scott West, a friend of Cloud Cult, were stationed behind the band in front of two easels. Craig explained that they were musicians playing “visual instruments.” They each created original paintings during the performance, which was a beautiful addition to the show. At the end of the set, people stayed to admire the paintings and place bids, with some people bidding over $400 by the time I left the venue.

The show left me feeling incredibly happy and energetic despite the late hour. If you have a chance to see Cloud Cult live, I highly recommend doing so. The band is planning on taking a hiatus after their tour ends, and it’s unclear whether another album will be in the works. They explain on their website, “After touring extensively for the past five years, and releasing a new album annually, the band plans to take a short respite to focus on family in the latter part of 2008 and into 2009.”

Here is a YouTube video I found of Cloud Cult performing “Everybody Here Is A Cloud” at the November 13 show:

You can find a download of “Take Your Medicine” at Cloud Cult’s website and “When Water Comes to Life” at Pitchfork. You can watch the video for “Everybody Here Is A Cloud” here and “Chemicals Collide” here.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Music | , | 2 Comments

Vote!

Below are some videos and links to check out before the presidential election.

A reminder from hip-hop video blogger Jay Smooth (a.k.a. Ill Doctrine) to resist becoming complacent.

This inspiring video was created by the Obama campaign and includes excerpts of Obama’s closing argument speech. Via Feministe.

The New Yorker published a very informative, comprehensive endorsement of Obama that you can read here. The authors eloquently summed up why Obama is the most qualified candidate to lead our country:

At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe.

Whoever you are voting for, be sure to make an informed decision and encourage your friends not to stay at home.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | politics | , | Leave a comment

National Novel Writing Month

Every year since 1999, aspiring writers have undertaken the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. I first heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a few years ago and thought it was a great idea, but the task seemed too daunting to consider. However, I like the concept of encouraging writers to get words on paper without worrying about producing a work of genius. According to nanowrimo.org, over 15,000 people completed the challenge last year. NaNoWriMo began today, November 1, so to all the participants, good luck and let the writing begin!

If you need inspiration, I recommend reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I found the section on shitty first drafts particularly helpful.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment