Thought Parade
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Thought Parade

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
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"Cloud Magic Adds a "Puff" of Electronics into Blues/Jazz"

A mix of jazz, rock and electronica, Cloud Magic’s Puff blends contemporary lounge music with trippy, in-your-face electronic music. Lead guitarist and singer Dave Menzo adds guitar riffs that one could classify as somewhere between blues and jazz to each track, along with intense solos in between. Complementing Menzo with high-pitched backup vocals, Sarah Price adds depth to Cloud Magic’s songs. The mastermind infusing electronics into each song is Chad Golda, who is also responsible for the bass and some of the percussion. Jerod Brocklehurst plays “The Big Drums,” which he does with a great sense of rhythm.
While Puff may not be for everyone, it can be a warm welcome to those who enjoy blues or jazz. Instead of sticking to the usual riffs and chord progressions usually heard in blues and pop, Cloud Magic mixes up the tones and moods of the guitar and adds solos usually reserved for heavy rockers like the ones heard in "Seven" and "Spanish Theme." While the addition of electronics could deter many potential listeners, it also adds a funky twist to the songs unlike anything you’ve heard before. Whether you are looking for an album to listen to while cruising through the city on a summer night, or something to fill an empty lounge, Cloud Magic’s Puff could be the album you are looking for. - REVUE West Michigan


"Meet Cloud Magic"

Cloud Magic is a psychedelic, funk/rock, jam band from East Lansing, MI. Members include Dave Menzo on vocals, guitar, and sounds, Sarah Price on vocals, auxiliary percussion, and sounds, Chad Golda on bass and sounds, and Jerod Brocklehurst on drums.
On any given night, Cloud Magic may be seen playing a show somewhere around East Lansing (or Mt. Pleasant, Grand Rapids, Detroit, etc.) They have a wide appeal, though the majority of their fans seem to be hippies, bohemians, free-spirits, and the creative/spiritual/dreamer types. It makes sense though. The band IS called Cloud Magic, their recently released album is entitled "Puff," and on their website, they even say that Cloud Magic sounds like "a technicolored wave splashing onto your soul."
But let's talk about the music itself. Cloud Magic's latest disc, "Puff," features 9 tracks, including the funky rock tune, "The Groove," the incredibly catchy "Nothin's Holdin' Me Up," and the harp infused "Dreams, Dreams." The disc is being sold online, at local stores in Michigan (including Flat Black and Circular, The Record Lounge, and Replay Entertainment Exchange in East Lansing and Encore Recordings and Foggy Bottom Bayou in Ann Arbor), and by the band members themselves. You can also order the CD and all sorts of Cloud Magic Apparel from Michigan Shirt Works. And if you buy anything (t-shirt, sweatshirt, bandanna) and wear it to a Cloud Magic show, you will probably be shown a lot of appreciation from the band members, who have personally funded Cloud Magic from day one with little to no help financially from anyone.
And when Cloud Magic started, there wasn't a lot of extra money floating around anywhere. The band was formed in the summer of 2008 (by no means a lucrative year for most Americans) after members Dave Menzo and Chad Golda had played their last shows with their former band General Rhinestone. Cloud Magic was then joined by Sarah Price, a music education student and semi-professional singer and drummer Jerod Brocklehurst, who is seen playing with many local talents on his own as well.
The combination of these four members makes music that Cloud Magic's official Facebook page describes as "the sound of dreaming. The rhythms from the earth get your feet moving, the melody of the human spirit gets you singing, and the sounds from beyond make you lose your mind. This is all part of the experience... Cloud Magic takes you where you have never been before..." -From http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cloud-Magic/38404746575?v=info&ref=search
Listen for yourself and see if you agree.
You can listen to some of Cloud Magic's music for free at their Myspace page:
http://www.myspace.com/cloudmagicmusic
Or purchase a copy of "Puff" online at:
https://www.msu.edu/~goldacha/cloudmagic.html
To read a review on Cloud Magic, please check out the following Squidoo Lens: http://www.squidoo.com/cloudmagicreview - Allvoices


"Puff the Magic"

BY KENT ALEXANDER

One day, a 4-year-old Dave Menzo tripped over an old Beatles tape lying on the carpet of his brother's bedroom.

"That's where it all started for me," he says. "I was one of eight kids, most of whom were older than me, so, at 4 years old, I had seen my brothers put a tape in a tape player and press play."

You can imagine this young kid, staring curiously up at a towering hulk of plastic and wood, waiting to hear what would jump from its speakers.

"All of a sudden, I'm hooked for life. It was that easy."

That crinkled old Beatles tape instilled in the Lansing-based multi-instrumentalist an intense drive to make music, and Menzo has since been pouring out songs and ideas almost nonstop. He's a bit of a figure in the Lansing rock scene, having been in dozens of bands, and he has produced and promoted scores more.

His latest collaborative project, Cloud Magic, is heading into its second fruitful year, and is celebrating the release of their debut album, Puff, which landed late last year. The album is also available for free download on Cloud Magic's website.

Interestingly enough, even as they give the album away for free, there's a healthy demand for the physical product. "I've been impressed," Menzo says. "You think if you put your album up for free, people will only download it and you'll never get anybody to buy it."

That's a sign of something, right?


Cloud Magic — rounded out by the jaw-droppingly gorgeous and classically trained vocalist-percussionist Sarah Price, bassist Chad Golda and drummer Jerod Brocklehurst — grew from remnants of previous versions and various obscure bands — and here Menzo is on lead guitar, sharing vocals with Price. The band's musical cohesiveness is deceptive; you'd never guess that this young band, basically hailing originally from Rochester Hills, is but two years old. And so far the group has been tagged mostly a "jam band," but that tag is a disservice, as it suggests images of sometimes tediously drawn-out songs, plastic jazz fusion and instrumental wankery. Cloud Magic manages to steer clear of such pretentious pitfalls and actually has well-crafted songs.

"That's one thing we've come across," Menzo says. "A lot of people will hear that we're a jam band because of the bands we're playing with, and they'll show up to our shows and be surprised that we actually have songs and that we actually have more progression than just jamming for two hours."

In fact, Cloud Magic's sound is predicated on a love of '70s prog, free jazz and even a shade of James Brown funk. Spacey songs, such as "Transmission Mode," bring to mind electronic rock pioneers Silver Apples or the deep, repetitive grooves of some early, lost '70s krautrock act.

Now, there are hordes of bands that can pull off a Pink Floyd-like sound — tired, grandiose and full of sociopolitical lyrical imagery —but not many rock 'n' roll bands can successfully weave jazz (especially avant-garde) into a rock context. But, where Cloud Magic does that, they mostly succeed; songs like "Seven" flow with jerky 7/4 rhythms and Menzo's sax-like guitar lines tease the song under Price's lovely soprano.

When listening to Puff, there's a kind of movement, fluidity; each song slips into the next, like scenes of a movie. There's beauty, and, because of Price, grace.

"My favorite albums are like that," Menzo says. "It's a full-on production. From beginning to end, you get every little sound as part of the story. By the end of album you realize you've been on a journey of sound. That was just how a lot of the music that I grew up on was, and the other members too."

So he and the band set out to make one of those old-fashioned albums that you sit and listen to from start to finish?

"Yeah. We held it to the standards that we've held albums like Dark Side of the Moon to."

Even when you can spot the band's influences back to the '60s or '70s, they're not just aping the mojo of their heroes. They understand that it's not about copying the product, as Jimmy Page once said, but understanding the methods that made it happen.

Puff was initially nurtured at Menzo's home studio in Lansing. When it came time to mix and master, the band enlisted veteran producer Glenn Brown, whose résumé affiliations run the gamut from Bill Laswell to Iggy Pop.

"He's worked with a lot of big names out of Detroit, out of Michigan, out of L.A.," Menzo says. "He's a guy we were lucky to work with so that we could really do an album 100 percent on our own, take it to Brown and mix it with his vintage compressors and EQs."

And for an album so steeped in a '70s sonic milieu, the warm analog sound is a must. "He's just got the perfect combination of gear, so if you want to make a classic album, you can have all your electronic effects but you're doing that on analog gear. And it dates it a bit. It kinda ends up sounding like a crazy album from the '60s or '70s."

Having worked their asses off on the record, the members have been hauling around the Mitten, and have shows lined up through the summer, all done DYI-style.

"We've played Detroit and Royal Oak and Lansing, Mount Pleasant and Grand Rapids," he says. "We've been trying to hit a lot of cities in Michigan. We've played in Ohio as well as Denver and Omaha. We're kinda booking a mini-tour right now. It would be easier if we had management, but it'll be more rewarding showing and realizing we've done it all ourselves. We're getting to a point where all the hard work's starting to pay off."


For a band so rooted in rock, jazz, jam and prog, their lyrics are a bit light in the way of political ideologies and social awareness. Yet, Menzo regrets not putting a bit more of his and the band's own spiritual and philosophical ideas in the music. "The reason I was so moved by the Beatles was because I could hear that message in their vocals. When they had these passionate and unique vocal harmonies, I could hear the love they were pouring out into the world. As I started getting older and becoming more knowledgeable about the environment and about American capitalism, about what we're doing to the rest of the world, about what we're doing to ourselves, about the Earth itself and its ecosystem — you know, even just the morality of everything — I realized that I finally have a tool to where now I could help change the world."

Menzo says that the band has even coined their own term for their message:

"The vision has always been there to change the world with this message of hope and open-mindedness, and I don't want to sound cliché but, ... you know, there's that term, the 'cloud of unknowing.' It's a Chinese term talking about frustration of ignorance or not knowing something. We came up with this phrase, thinking just the opposite: the 'cloud of knowing.'" - Metro Times


Discography

Introducing... (2012)
1. Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
2. I've Just Seen A Face
3. Dock Of The Bay
4. Gimmie One Reason

Photos

Bio

As the acoustic duo, Elise Amato (Vocals), and Dave Menzo (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar) create a mellow, yet exciting atmosphere. Their energy is explosive, even in small venues, and at a comfortable listening volume.

Amato's voice gives the group a warm and beautiful tone. Complimented by Menzo's well matched voice, and intricate guitar work, the group provides an exciting, and well balanced sound.

On the same note, their list of covers reaches over 200 songs, including music from every decade since the 1950's.