Cloudkicker

Fade

01. From the Balcony
02. The Focus
03. Seattle
04. Garage Show
05. LA After Rain
06. Making Will Mad
07. Our Crazy Night

[08/01/12]
[Self Released]

To say I’m a fan of Cloudkicker would be a severe understatement. Ben Sharp is literally the biggest reason I write, record, and produce all of my own music. Seeing his critical success from doing everything himself and sustaining a regular life outside of music, keeping music as a labor of love hobby, has been extremely inspiring to me. I’ve followed every release of his since Portmanteau in 2009 and have loved every single one of them. Seeing the progression from a Meshuggah inspired instrumentalist to a spacey-post rockish-shoegazer has been a trip. Every album Ben has released has its own sound and identity, and Fade is one of the biggest stand outs in his discography, as well as being the first he’s co-written with a friend of his, Adam Castle.

One of the things that is immediately noticeable about Fade is how much more it sounds like it’s being played by a full band. The influence of bands like The Smashing Pumpkins is very apparent on this album, right down to the guitar tone. The sound and feel of 90’s rock and grunge is all over the album. Though it is undeniably Cloudkicker, and will definitely draw in people who didn’t get anything out of Let Yourself Be Huge.

Fade starts out how you’d expect a Cloudkicker album to at this point, with a bouncier, varied track that sets the mood for the rest of the album. Opening song ‘From The Balcony‘ flows right into ‘The Focus’ and continues the album in a direction that sounds like Ben wanted to take everything he did on previous release Let Yourself Be Huge with added distorted guitars  and the ambiance of his early releases that made them what they were. Third track in, ‘Seattle’, is not only the longest song on the album, but the most like older Cloudkicker. On first listen I instantly thought of it as a “sequel” to my personal favorite song of Ben’s, ‘The Discovery’, thanks to it’s use of layers and ambiance part way through the song that had me smiling.

Unfortunately this is where the album meets it’s biggest snag (next to the fact that it does end), every song after ‘Seattle’ is a bit forgettable, though not bad by any means; the songs just don’t have the immediate impact the previous tracks do. That is until the absolutely astounding closer ‘Our Crazy Night’. This song may be one of, if not the best thing Ben Sharp has ever written. I’ve noticed that Ben loves to save the best for last on his albums. On Let Yourself Be Huge, it was the same way. ‘Our Crazy Night‘ is seriously everything you could hope for if you’re a fan of previous albums. It’s got the most energy, the biggest riffs, and tons of ambiance. It’s like the icing on the cake for the album; the final opus that leaves you wanting more, but just makes you start the album over again.  I can only hope Ben continues to write songs like this one. Even with the “hidden” track that is included, the album runs over 40 minutes long, but feels like it’s half as long on a full listen.

All in all, Fade is in the running for being one of my favorite albums released this year. When I don’t know what I want to listen to, Fade ends up being what is played. My hat is off to Ben Sharp, and I sincerely hope he continues to write music under Cloudkicker.

Cloudkicker – Fade gets…

4/5

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