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Mighty Clouds Record Review

posted by Matt Pierce on November 15, 2010

It seems rare these days that I find an album where I love every single song. Even some of my favorite records contain at least one that isn’t my taste. For the past five days, I’ve been listening to a new self-titled album by Mighty Clouds and I think I love every song. I’ve even gotten to the point of worrying that I burnt myself out, but I keep listening - and I’m now growing even more fond of it.

Mighty Clouds is a new project led by Fred Thomas and Betty Marie Barnes, who’ve previously recorded together as the band, Saturday Looks Good To Me. That band’s album, “All Your Summer Songs” was an endearing record, reminiscent of vintage pop and multi-instrument bliss. It was a warm, familiar sound, though to me, kept trying to be too many things. Each song seemed to take it’s own path, whereas on “Mighty Clouds”, there seem to be one, unified plan. I’m not saying “All Your Summer Songs” is bad, because it’s excellent... just different. In my current listening pattern, “Mighty Clouds” is the winner.

This album has a well-crafted build to it. Fred Thomas is a crazy-busy artist and he’s obviously put in the allotted ten-thousand-genius-hours a long time ago. The song “Past Lives” starts out with Betty’s amazing vocals and some sparse acoustic guitar, but soon rolls into a comfortably lush sound. There’s so many instruments building into the album, but it never feels crowded. Each song seems to build on the previous, making it so cohesive - you could never buy just a single song. I feel bad even having it shuffled. So many good elements to this project, the vocals are playful yet gripping, guitars perfectly jangly, bells, horns, percussion... but my favorite might be the bass guitar. Once you get to “Spell It Out”, the bass drives the song, and every other element accompanies perfectly. On “Stay Single”, it sneaks up on you ferociously and with so much fuzz, you’ll go crazy. (“Stay Single” is a free download from Polyvinyl too!)

A side note to the fuzz: This sound was first made popular with a country record - a 1960 hit by Marty Robbins, “Don’t Worry”. It was due to faulty electronics, though the sound engineer, Glen Snoddy, decided it must stay in the record. has a great history of fuzz, and to hear the recording - check this video. The magic begins about 1:37.

I really feel this is going to be one of this years’ darlings, so seek it out... listen to some samples... and I know you’re gonna want it. I got my copy via Polyvinyl, where they are offering the 180 gram cloudy vinyl with an instant download. If you’re a digital kid, the band is offering the album with audiophile quality tracks at their site for super bargain of $5.00!