Monochrome Places, 2013
Review by Kent Manthie
Pete Jordan is the Cloud Person. At least that’s how it was in the beginning. When starting out, making demos, etc., Jordan used “Cloud Person” as a pseudonym on his “lo-fi” sounding demos. Shortly thereafter, it grew into a trio, featuring Betsey Johnson on violin and Cameron Arneson on bass. A year and many live gigs later they added a drummer (Steve Straney), a keyboardist (Mikkel Lee-Meyers) and a guitarist (Mike Fisher).
The sextet finally got going and with Pete Jordan’s songwriting, just came out with their first full-length CD, Monochrome Places. It’s an interesting amalgam of styles: Monochrome Places starts out with a couple Celtic-sounding folk tunes (“Lighthouse” and “Robber Barons”), which are punctuated throughout with Betsey’s violin which really adds that Irish countryside vibe. “Old Demeter” is more of a bluesy, edgier jam, followed by the slow, somewhat melancholy “Clenched Teeth”, a slow, but catchy tune which has a sort of R.E.M.-ness to it; introspective and existential musings with something ethereal about it that is hard to capture, but enjoyable nonetheless. “Same Old Totem” follows. This one’s got more of a kick to it, with the drums providing a strong punctuation and a bigger sound. The difference between the first couple songs with the middle and the last few is a good example of the variety of music styles with which Cloud Person experiments.
In general, though, Cloud Person belongs in the “indie rock” category, there’s no doubt about that. Jordan’s got a good knack for songwriting and the aforementioned songs are shining testaments to that. At 40 minutes long, this nine-song album is a potpourri of ideas, sounds and its genre-bending, marriage of styles is sure to keep the music fresh and not nine variations on the same sound.
Monochrome Places ends with “Men of Good Fortune” (no, not the Lou Reed song from the great Berlin album) which, with its plaintive, hopeful yearnings, leaves the listener with a sated appetite. One of the constants of the album is Betsey’s violin, which is a ubiquitous background but she plays in a way that is complementary to the song.
It’s a good, mellow, contemplative album which isn’t weighted down to heavily by overwrought mediocrity, but rather a breezy, laze-in-the-grass sort of album. You can find more information about Cloud Person and hear some tracks at www.bandcamp.com. Just remember that, what you hear at the beginning of the album is not representative of it as a whole, so give it a chance and just keep going. The title of the album is somewhat apt – Monochrome Places is reminiscent of an overcast day, walking around under gray skies and quiet streets. -KM.