Stone Cloud [CS; Noumenal Loom / Happenin' Records]

Starting to feel like a broken record with this, but I’ve reviewed an inordinately large amount of rock and roll music in 2014. Where my noisies at?! Seriously though, not complaining, especially since it’s solid stuff like Plains here, the project of Alabamite Travis Swinford, who’s a dead ringer for Lou Reed on Stone Cloud if I’ve ever heard one. Ugh, I really hate making cliché comparisons like that, but sometimes you realize that clichés are cliché because they must have something that sticks. Something lasting. In terms of the Plains approach to songwriting that means things like strict 4/4 time signatures, tambourine on 2 + 4, 4-5-1’s, strummed electric guitar, blues scales, breathy baritone vocals, and verse/chorus structures abound with the occasional bridge. And what a beautiful frame to put a picture in, right? As you walk down the gallery of Stone Cloud you get all these different shades and colors, a “collection” in the truest sense of the word with the band lazily drifting through sun-soaked jangles bright enough to turn February in Fargo into a summer vacation, and strolling down moonlit serenades all deep blue just like your lovers’ eyes. And along with all that structured, familiar goodness, just what good would Plains really be if the band didn’t let loose once in awhile? Bring in the closer, “Here Comes Bye Baby,” with its extended kraut-coda and flurry of guitar delay delight. Swirling psychedelic rock up there with the best of ‘em, and in a lot of cases, much better.


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