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Live review: Cloud Control + Palms + Gang of Youths – The Tivoli, Brisbane – 23/8/13

Cloud Control
Cloud Control

The Tivoli has started to feel like a second home recently, such has been the frequency and quality of gigs happening in the fine old Fortitude Valley venue. Spending so much time there has resulted in the first whiffs of the beer stench of the old carpet feeling like a comforting pair of arms drawing me to some familiar, homely bosom, willing me to forget the trials of whatever day-to-day crap I may have encountered and lose myself in the religion of music… or something along those vaguely ideological lines. Recent reports of it possibly being sold and bulldozed hopefully won’t become crushing reality, otherwise where would nights like tonight happen? It’s enough to make a live music lover want to chain himself to the balcony railings, plaster his self-righteous physical form in bicycle grease and start ranting about how our culture is going down the tubes. Or maybe just buy a pizza slice and skulk off home with the rest of the apathetic masses – given that I’m all out of bicycle grease.

Generalisations aside, there’s a gig to be reviewed, and first support for tonight’s show is Sydneysiders Gang of Youths, who are already making an outstandingly melancholy noise as I enter a semi-filled Tivoli; their lead singer possessing one the most wonderfully rich voices I have heard in recent months. There is very little information about these guys online, but go to Soundcloud and check out their song ‘Knuckles White Dry (Car Ride Home)’ – I defy you to tell me it’s not beautiful.

Palms
Palms

Next up is Palms; the Sydney shredders introducing an immediate element of scuzzy raucousness to proceedings, with frontman Al Grigg putting in a brilliantly manic and sweaty performance from start to finish, as they plough through a set of “aspirational rock ‘n’ roll songs about living your dreams,” including ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’. As his baseball cap flies off his head mid-head-bang during the first song, the audience know this is going to be a good set.

It’s with the stage lights almost totally dimmed to nothing that Cloud Control enter the fray, and like any band with a new record to plug, they begin with the first two songs off the new release, ‘Scream Rave’ and ‘Dojo Rising’. The woozy psychedelia of that album sounds great booming from the Tivoli stage, with hooded frontman Alister Wright exclaiming “This is the first show of the tour – I think we’re off to a good start!” and the audience responding in the affirmative. There’s plenty of time for the best of 2010’s Bliss Release to make appearances with the pop melodies of ‘This Is What I Said’ and ‘Meditation Song #2 (Why Oh Why)’ and it’s vaguely Celtic chorus chant as the faithful down the front bounce in unison, before the band jump back to the new material with ‘Scar’ and ‘Moonrabbit’. The new songs show the diversity that Cloud Control have injected into their sound, and it’s during ‘Promises’ that we get a feeling of how much of a charismatic frontman Wright really is, despite his diminutive stature. A finishing rendition of ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight’ sends the audience daft before the band come back on for an encore that includes the title track from their new album, inevitably sending a Friday night Tivoli crowd into spasms.

With the final chords still ringing in our ears, all that’s left is for us to leave our beloved venue and head off homeward-bound, stopping only for a pizza slice and to check the prices of bicycle grease.

Record review: Cloud Control – Dream Cave (2013, LP)

There’s always been something about Cloud Control’s music that has – for me, anyway – fallen tantalisingly short of being quite good. Their 2010 debut Bliss Release was a half decent stab at an indie-rock album, with a few good tunes tucked away amongst a heap of forgettable dross. Clearly attempting to branch out and evolve their sound into something more diverse, they have incorporated elements of electronic music and psychedelia into Dream Cave, and almost every song sounds completely different. The result is a bit of a mish-mash of a record that once again falls short of being anywhere near good. The first two tracks, ‘Scream Cave’ and single ‘Dojo Rising’ are the best on offer and will get your hopes up that this is going to be a cracker of an album, before the rest of the tunes break your spirit and leave you wallowing in disappointment. A swirling haze of hand-claps and reversed vocals start ‘Scream Cave’, and ‘Dojo Rising’ is an effortlessly cool pop song drenched with reverb-soaked ’60s mannerisms. Unfortunately, things go downhill from there, as the cringe-worthy lead vocal on ‘Promises’ leads into ‘Moonrabbit’, which steals too much from ’60s pop melodies to be taken seriously, and ‘Island Living’, which leaves you wondering if this is really all there is. ‘Happy Birthday’ could be a Mamas and Papas track that didn’t make the cut, and the title track is the token attempt at a ballad. Maybe it’ll be third time lucky for Cloud Control. (Ivy League)