When we received the latest EP from The Cloud Room in the mail, our first thoughts at the Tripwire Austin HQ was "WHAT THE FUCK?" Our confusion wasn't the fact that we got an EP from the band, as we've been fans of theirs ever since we caught at the now defunct NYC venue Rothko back in January 2005. What gave us a moment of WTF was the condition of the EP itself, arriving in a charred, melted jewel case, along with a moist toilette to clean the burned residue off our fingers after handling the jewel case.
The package included a note from frontman J, who noted that we had received a "limited edition" version of Please Don't Almost Kill Me, courtesy of his melted music collection. Longtime Tripwire readers might recall a news story we ran back in November about J's apartment going up in flames. Packaging their latest EP in the melted remains of his music collection is pretty brilliant if you ask us.
Their self-released EP marks the follow-up to their catchy eponymous debut album, taking an already great formula of indie pop and making it even better. The tunes were produced by Mario McNulty, who has also worked with artists ranging from The Raveonettes to Matmos to David Bowie. The dude was Tony Visconti's engineer, so The Cloud Room was in great hands. The results are bigger and better than we had imagined, and should easily reignite the excitement surrounding the band that first started with their should-have-been-a-hit single "Hey Now Now."
The EP begins with "24 Hr. Heartbreak," rocking a familiar bassline that definitely keeps a similar vibe to their earlier material. While the song does bring back memories to their debut, complete with a chant-along chorus, the band has added a depth to their sound that was fairly absent in earlier recordings. J's vocals are bigger and better, continuing his journey into becoming one hell of a frontman.
The biggest surprise on this four song EP is the brilliant "When Dogs & Wolves Split." This glammy indie-rock track includes the sultry, breathy vocals of Nicole Atkins, who J apparently met on a blind date television program. Odd. With layers of Eno sonics, along with a chilling duet between Atkins and J, this song builds to an explosive climax that shows how much this band has grown. If David Bowie and PJ Harvey were ever to record together, this is quite possibly what it would sound like.
The Cloud Room has come a long, long way from that January 2005 show at Rothko. Please Don't Almost Kill Me shows a band that has been on one hell of a journey, traveling around the globe and in the process truly developed their own sound. They maintained the catchy pop that caught our ears in the first place, but have added some serious musicianship to their songs. With an EP this impressive, we can't wait to hear what these lads have up their sleeves for future releases.
"24 Hr. Heartbreak"