Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult is an experimental chamber rock band from the Midwest who has stayed true to the concept of DIY “Indie Rock” for more than 15 years. The band has remained independent for the past decade and a half in favor of keeping total control of the ethical aspects of their music and business, despite enticing offers from notable major labels. In the process, Cloud Cult has sold over 100,000 albums out of lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa’s organic hobby farm. The band has come to be known for its philosophical lyrics, as Minowa has used many of the songs to search for answers to spiritual questions after the unexpected loss of his two-year-old son in 2002.

On a shoe-string budget, the self-managed band has taken their albums to the top of the CMJ charts, positioning themselves alongside artists with substantial marketing budgets. Cloud Cult’s Light Chasers, released in 2010 and the predecessor to Love, landed them on the Billboard Charts, serving as the only truly independent release on the charts at that time.

All this success was made possible via Cloud Cult’s self-made record label, Earthology Records, which was created by Minowa in the late 90s and was one of the very first green labels to come into existence. Minowa partnered his passion for music with his environmentalist background to start the label out of what he calls “necessity,” due to the fact that there simply weren’t options for environmentally friendly CD manufacturing in the industry at that time. Cloud Cult helped co-develop the now wildly popular recycled paperboard CD cases, and also created models for zero net greenhouse gas production for touring bands years before it was trendy. Both The New York Times and NPR have called Cloud Cult a leading pioneer in helping to green the music industry.

Cloud Cult’s live shows include the rock band along with violin, cello, trumpet, trombone and French horn. Two live painters create original artwork on stage during each performance. Cloud Cult has participated in many of the US’s leading festivals including Coachella and Sasquatch and has performed live on NPR’s World Café, WNYC’s Soundcheck and Last Call with Carson Daly. Minowa was tapped to score 12 hour-long documentaries for National Geographic’s “America the Wild,” and during the 2010 Superbowl, the band was featured in cartoon form performing their song “Lucky Today” in an Esurance commercial.

Cloud Cult will support the release of their latest studio album Love with a North American tour in March thru May 2013, including performances at this year’s SXSW Festival. Along with the new album, the feature-length documentary on Cloud Cult “No One Said It Would Be Easy” will debut in early 2013 on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. A full-length biography about Cloud Cult’s journey as a band by author Mark Allister is slated for release in late 2013.

Jesse Marchant, who records under his initials, JBM, was born and raised in his family's homes in the Adirondacks and Montreal. Classically trained on guitar from the age of 7, he had always written instrumental songs as a means of expression, but it wasn't until recent years that he began writing lyrics, singing and recording. After a decision to withdraw, he retreated to his family's home in the mountains, to live in seclusion and fully realize songs that he'd written while living in Los Angeles, in what he's described as a somewhat strange and solitary three-year existence.

After shaping and working an album's worth of music, Jesse got in contact with Henry Hirsch who took instantly to the demos and the two, with a few visiting musicians, made the record in just two short weeks at Hirsch's 19th Century church studio in Hudson, NY. It was released on Partisan Records on July 27th 2010.

Not Even in July is the kind of record you have to live before you can write. The album is an exquisitely crafted and painfully human collection of songs that exhibit the measured persistence and spectral beauty of a breaking dawn. It feels as weathered and wise as an old home— alive, lived-in and loved. Like the family cabin in the Adirondacks where he writes, Not Even in July is Marchant's safe and solitary haven— his place of emotional harborage.

Not Even In July is a mostly acoustic venture, textured thoughtfully by Marchant's atmospheric arrangements, lyrical purity and unaffected baritone— that is as grand in its haunting restraint as it is in its emotional vitality. "Years," a lulling, finger-picked instrumental slips into "Cleo's Song," a ghostly reverie on loneliness and despair, while "Ambitions & War" targets Los Angeles, in a shuffling indictment of greed and inhumanity. "July on the Sound" crashes delicately and darkly through scenes of death, love and life; "From Me to You and You to Me" weaves a lazy, spiraling plea; and the resolute beat of "Friends For Fireworks" swings from the optimism and beauty of sunset to the dark finality of night. The album closes with "Red October" and its piano-drenched memories of a love lost, and "Swallowing Daggers", a hopeless declaration of concern for a loved one gone off the rails.

Not Even In July is an improbably stunning feat from a man who, until this point in his life, had never considered being a musician or playing his songs live until this year (he's now shared the stage with St. Vincent, Elvis Perkins, Tallest Man on Earth). It plays out like a painstakingly elegant, yet brutally honest break-up letter written by Marchant and addressed to many: a lover, a dying friend, a piece of himself and a passing phase of life. But it's also a love letter— to what comes next, and to finally coming home.

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