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Legendary Demo

(Hydra Head; US: 6 Feb 2007; UK: 5 Feb 2007)

Legendary Demo takes you back to your scraggly-haired teenage years, a time when volume and attitude mattered most.  Guitars were screaming, and the vocalists were too.  Subtlety wasn’t an esteemed accolade; headbang-ability was.  Over these eight tracks, Clouds fuses in-your-face references to ‘70s heavy music—ZZ Top, Sabbath, and even the Stooges—with allusions to the glorious grunge of the ‘90s.  The album is an inspired throwback to memorable decades of heavy music, as if Clouds forgot (as I would often like to) that the ‘80s and New Wave ever existed. 

The first seven tracks are strong and succinct (22 minutes total), a Clouds proclamation that brevity and heavy music can coexist.  “Live It for Now” approximates punk in its pacing, while “Party Grunge” lives up to its name without overstaying its welcome.  (A stark contrast, one might observe, to the insatiable corporatization of post-Nirvana grunge.)  Opener “New Amnesia” changes speed several times within its three-and-a-half minutes, like a Harley accelerating through city streets while never losing volume, and “Pressure” crams lumbering sludge and tight metal into a taut two minutes. 

The band stretches out to around the five-minute mark on two occasions.  The blues-rock texture of “Mountain Jim” makes it the most consistently-paced track of Legendary Demo.  “Magic Hater” is less even-handed.  It takes off at breakneck velocity, and then stumbles through a mid-tempo bridge before finding a shredding groove for its final three minutes. 

“Quartulli Dub” closes Legendary Demo.  Lengthy and sax-fuelled, it is nothing like the tracks that precede it.  The first ten dubby minutes spin and tumble in a fascinating frolic, but the second ten lose focus and inspiration.  Sure, it’s psychedelic and a reprieve from the preceding heavy-ness.  As a come-down, however, the song tests your patience and leaves you unsatisfied. 

By exploring a multitude of heavy influences—often within one song—Clouds have approached the creation of Legendary Demo as they would a demo tape.  The result is not so much legendary as it is well-executed, well-crafted, and played with the passion of an invincible teenager. 

Hey mom, where’s my jean jacket?


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