89.3 The Current’s 8th Birthday Party
ST. PAUL, Minn. — This January marks eight years since The Current first went on-air, and they're celebrating with two nights of great local music at the First Ave mainroom! Join us on Friday, January 18th and Saturday, January 19th for The Current's eighth birthday party, with each night featuring a different line-up of four great local bands.
Cloud Cult is an experimental chamber rock band from the Midwest who has stayed true to the concept of DIY “Indie Rock” for more than 15 years. The band has remained independent for the past decade and a half in favor of keeping total control of the ethical aspects of their music and business, despite enticing offers from notable major labels. In the process, Cloud Cult has sold over 100,000 albums out of lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa’s organic hobby farm. The band has come to be known for its philosophical lyrics, as Minowa has used many of the songs to search for answers to spiritual questions after the unexpected loss of his two-year-old son in 2002.
On a shoe-string budget, the self-managed band has taken their albums to the top of the CMJcharts, positioning themselves alongside artists with substantial marketing budgets. Cloud Cult’s Light Chasers, released in 2010 and the predecessor to Love, landed them on the Billboard Charts, serving as the only truly independent release on the charts at that time. All this success was made possible via Cloud Cult’s self-made record label, Earthology Records, which was created by Minowa in the late 90s and was one of the very first green labels to come into existence. Minowa partnered his passion for music with his environmentalist background to start the label out of what he calls “necessity,” due to the fact that there simply weren’t options for environmentally friendly CD manufacturing in the industry at that time. Cloud Cult helped co-develop the now wildly popular recycled paperboard CD cases, and also created models for zero net greenhouse gas production for touring bands years before it was trendy. Both The New York Times and NPR have called Cloud Cult a leading pioneer in helping to green the music industry.
Cloud Cult’s live shows include the rock band along with violin, cello, trumpet, trombone and French horn. Two live painters create original artwork on stage during each performance. Cloud Cult has participated in many of the US’s leading festivals including Coachella and Sasquatch and has performed live on NPR’s World Café, WNYC’s Soundcheck and Last Call with Carson Daly. Minowa was tapped to score 12 hour-long documentaries for National Geographic’s “America the Wild,” and during the 2010 Superbowl, the band was featured in cartoon form performing their song “Lucky Today” in an Esurance commercial. Cloud Cult will support the release of their latest studio album Love with a North American tour in March thru May 2013, including performances at this year’s SXSW Festival. Along with the new album, the feature-length documentary on Cloud Cult No One Said It Would Be Easy will debut in early 2013 on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. A full-length biography about Cloud Cult’s journey as a band by author Mark Allister is slated for release in late 2013.
Threads, the second full-length release from Minneapolis based Now, Now explores the fragile and often transitory nature of our existence, our perceived understanding of the world around us and relationships shared with others physically and emotionally. Produced by Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, An Horse, New Pornographers), Threads forms a sprawling sonic endeavor that showcases the bands incredible growth as songwriters and musicians. Vulnerable vocals give way to oceans of sound retaining definition via deftly layered guitar parts augmented by lingering synths which alternate between background and center stage. The trio composed of Cacie Dalager (Vocals, Guitar), Jess Abbott (Vocals, Guitar), and Brad Hale (Drums, Synth) packed up their van and drove 1800 miles across North America to record Threads with Redekopp in Vancouver, BC.
Beyond the geographical shift, the recording felt miles removed from their full-length debut Cars. Released in 2008 prior to Abbott joining the band, Cars saw the fresh out of High School Dalager and Hale traveling the United States non-stop and finding their way onto European arena tours. Through word of mouth and constant touring, Now, Now (formerly Now, Now Every Children) began building a support system of fans and friends, including Maine native, Abbott, who soon enough relocated to the Twin Cities to become the third member of Now, Now Every Children, sharing equally in songwriting and vocal contributions. Dropping “Every Children” from their name, Now, Now began working on the Neighbors EP, an experiment in writing and recording for the first time as a three piece.
“What people will specifically notice about the songs on Threads,” says Hale, “is the way that they are put together. We spent a lot of time going through the basic song ideas and restructuring them to make them their best. Since we haven’t released a full-length in so long,” he explains, “we wanted to make sure we were all loving everything about it before we went all the way out there to record.” During the recording Now, Now could tell they were hitting their stride for the first time. “As happy as we are with Neighbors,” Abbott says, “a lot of things didn’t click because we were just learning how to write together.” Dalager notes, “We killed ourselves over Threads. That sounds dramatic, but everything about it was excruciating in a good way. Every little idea was worked to its best.” As a result, “this is the first release we feel really proud of.” With the album complete, Now, Now look to the future with great anticipation. “This band feels like an extension of us as people,” explains Dalager. “It’s something we’ve been nurturing for a long time and is all we really care about; something we’ve worked really hard for and need to make happen no matter what.”
The three emcees in The Chalice are known quite well individually in the Twin Cities music community. Lizzo has a popular project called Lizzo and The Larva Ink, Sophia Eris has released a steady stream of material (and expects a new record shortly) and Claire De Lune has appeared as a guest vocalist on tracks by MaLLy, Guante and The Tribe & Big Cats! It should then come as no surprise that when the three team up as The Chalice, they are creating some of most dynamic music in Minnesota, fusing individual influences like soul, funk, R&B, reggae and straight up hip-hop.
All transplants to the Midwest, you can hear what each woman brings to the mix. Claire De Lune harnesses the sultry, jazz-inspired nighttime of New York City. Sophia Eris hails from Dayton, OH, or the “Gem City” as it has been deemed, and she certainly exudes the queen-like qualities that exist inside all women, much like a younger Erykah Badu. And Lizzo lashes out with her fresh, southern bite, a result of growing up in Houston.
The Chalice are still relatively new, but things seem bright — the response to their one public song “Push It” has been overwhelming. It’s a set-up that Minnesota hasn’t seen in a very long time: three respected female hip-hop artists under one roof, harnessing the girl-power that Aby Wolf, Dessa, Maria Isa and Desdamona have created in recent years. It’s time for the young ones to take over the reigns. With heavy support from the Rhymesayers roster, well-regarded South Minneapolis rappers and other musicians throughout the country, we think The Chalice will have no issue getting the attention that is warranted. [Jon Schober, 89.3 The Current]