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.

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

Plastic Bags

I found this slideshow posted on livejournal, and I think it does a great job of showing why we need to reduce the amount of plastic bags that are used (or better yet, ban them altogether). I had no idea that so many countries have already banned plastic bags!

And if you haven’t seen the music video for Canvas Bags by Tim Minchin, you should. Now.

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Environment, Music | , , | 1 Comment

Greenwashing

I found out about the Rainforest Action Network’s Greenwash of the Week videos through Feministing and wanted to share. Bria and Robin do a great job of highlighting environmental issues and corporate hypocrisy. Their newest video is about GM’s new ad campaign, which tries to portray the company as environmentally friendly and forward thinking when it is anything but.

I also like this video from a few weeks ago, in which Bria and Robin discuss the ridiculousness of marketing recycled Barbie accessories as socially conscious and environmentally friendly. They link issues like thoughtless consumption, environmental toxins, labor issues, and the oppression of women. You can watch all the videos here.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Feminism | , , , , | Leave a comment