This third album from Spring Lake, New Jersey’s Black Clouds may be the charm because, goddamn – it rocks.  Seriously.  Not dissimilarly to Foo Fighters (say what you will; I like them quite a lot), these four young men know how to put a melody together and turn it up to 100 m.p.h., which is an invigorating thing.  Produced by the masterful and vigilant ears of Jack Endino (who knows a thing or two on how to make a song sound alive), along with singer/guitarist Dan Matthews, this album explodes in crispness, energy and power.

“Photograph” just leaps out at you with snarling riffs but with such clarity in the guitars and a deep, tight rhythm section and on-point, razor sharp vocals; “Self Control” does have a (I hate to say it, since I dislike them) Nirvana-like sensibility about it, but those harmonies are just so right and the tension of the song’s rhythm makes this an instant favorite/highlight; the maelstrom of sound on “Sayonara” is like a car out of control and driving along the edge of a cliff – it’s that kind of wild hellride that works and “Leave Her Alone” slows things down but still keeps the intensity at white-hot.  “Vice” features guest appearances by producer Endino and the glorious Mark Arm of Mudhoney and does, indeed, remind me of Mr. Arm’s splendid band; “Merchants Of Death” is another track that turns the volume down a bit but keeps the tension and ceaseless rocking going forward and “Falling” is the shimmering surprise; a low voltage masterpiece that screams “radio friendly hit single sorely needed to do away with insipidly banal faceless pop waste” and a deliciously tasteful guitar solo.

All the elements to this album are right; the production; the sound, the feel, the vibe all work hand in hand and it’s well-balanced.  I would really hope that no one uses a banal definition like “grunge” because it would be insulting to this fine band.  I hope on the strength of this quality-minted album that The Black Clouds only have light ahead of them.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

After All is available now

http://www.theblackclouds.com/

About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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