It is fair to say that 2013 was a big year for the re-emerging Clouder, the US band finding a spark to reignite their appetite and adventure after a hiatus which left the future of the band in doubt. With the release of their second album Sister Raygun, they and we can expect this year to not only follow the last in success but push the band into greater wider spotlights. Pulsating and brawling with the band’s unique mix of garage and psyche rock driven by punk/power pop energy, the band‘s new release offers a tantalising bait which is contagiously irresistible and irrepressibly belligerent, a glorious mix in the hands of sonic devils like Clouder.
The Brooklyn quintet took little time to provoke passions from their coming together in 2011, playing over 100 shows around New York City in their first year building and earning a reputation for their fiery live performances. Debut album Freakin’ Out the Squares was uncaged the following year, again to strong praise and reactions from fans and media alike. Then came the eight month hiatus full of personal trials and tribulations for some members which almost brought the band to an end and saw vocalist Eric Gilstrap move to North Carolina. Thankfully the band resumed to writing new songs and spending months sending back and forth rough demos to each other as a new release became flesh. Uniting with producer Jeff Berner (Psychic TV, Heliotropes, Dead Stars) in his Brooklyn studio, the band emerged with Sister Raygun, a release which worries, solicits, and pleasures the imagination like a demonic temptress.
Released via Fleeting Youth Records, Sister Raygun lays an initial stroke of guitar upon the ear as opener Dancing in the Proving Grounds moves into view. Its reserved first touch is aided by a rhythmic tempting before the band explodes into a potent stomp of guitar sculpted enterprise guided by the distinct cause yet magnetic vocal tones of Gilstrap. With a sixties punk throat to the voice of the guitars and a raw edge to the sonic suasion, the track provides an enticing entrance into the release, a compelling doorway which is impossible to resist crossing the threshold of.
The following Lost in Reverie equally shows no restraint in opening up its broad rhythmic shoulders and energetic stroll. There is a swagger to the song from the off, one which soon welcomes the darker delivery of Gilstrap within the acidic invention of guitarists Steve Spinella and Matt Revie. Into its dramatic stride with further deliciously teasing imagination from the guitars and a moody tempting from bassist Max Goransson, the song intimidates and seduces with equal potency. The sound of Clouder is certainly distinct to themselves but imagine a mix of Damn Vandals and early The Horrors with at times the irreverence and haunting howls of Pil and you get an inkling of the menace and beauty on offer.
The excellent feisty pop call of Lady Retrograde unveils an infectious vivacity and magnetic garage rock canter to continue the impressive and appetite raising stomp of the album, whilst its successors Psychic Cities and The Ballad of Sister Raygun provide further individual bait to bring a greedy hunger to. The first of the pair rides in on another highly persuasive enslaving of the emotions by drummer Jim Wood, his thumping rolling rhythms the prelude to a melancholic but lively web of melodic and sonic endeavour beneath the John Lydon reminding effect wrapped vocals of Gilstrap. There is a mystique and scuzziness to the track which equally lures in the imagination, a psychotic edge which only accentuates the bait of the song whilst its successor slowly walks openly and hauntingly through a shadowed inventive balladry, both songs leaving a lingering inventive suasion.
Phantom Girl unleashes a new level of addiction forging contagion next, the punk bred garage rocker brewing up essences of past decades into a politely dirty schizophrenic drama. Again The Horrors meets Pil come to mind within the fresh and original character of the sonic storm with just a touch of Spizzenergi to the vocal squall and insatiable hooks. Its glory is swiftly succeeded by All the Royal Years Are Gone, another unpolished treat of dirt clad rock ‘n’ roll with the snarl and honesty to antagonise and ignite the senses.
The mesmeric black toned Damaged Sun comes next, its sonic acridity aligned to a shadow spawned, discord filtered atmosphere. There is a Mary & Jesus Chain glaze to the track whilst an Inspiral Carpets/Birdland blend seems to infect the melodic and vocal traits of the song; a feel which less openly also spices up the transfixing and enthralling Western Wastelands. Though neither song stands out as forcibly as others on Sister Raygun both engage and satisfy thoroughly though they are not helped by standing right next to the brilliant overpowering closing song, Doldrums. Armed with a groove which simply steals attention and passions from its opening lure upon the ears, the track romps and commands with a swagger and relish that cannot fail to overwhelm the imagination like an epidemic, the repetitive hook an irresistible focus of all the craft and energy at play within band and song.
Sister Raygun is one of those shot in the arm releases which may not come to be called a classic but has the ability to inspire a genre to explore itself further, though Clouder will be during that anyway if they can hopefully avoid any more breaks in their conquering of garage and psyche rock.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from