Dave Cloud – Practice In The Milky Way – LP
There can be few records that manage to include tributes to the English female, nudist camps, runnin’ for the border, and French writer and WWII resistance agitator Guy De Maupassant… but then again there are few artists quite like Dave Cloud. “Have no fear because this is David Cloud delivering to you the story of Siberian hypnotism”, begins his latest 20-track opus, Practice In The Milky Way, “yes and includes a variety of sounds”. It’s never entirely clear what this impressively sideburned and portly singer, sometime frontman of the Gospel Of Power, really intends in his garrulous, gnarly narrated Nashville blues: his tongue’s in cheek, but it’s rarely his own. As he announces on the title track: “good loving can be found… on the rebound”. For Cloud, though, it’s more like a second wind. After his 20-year catalogue was rediscovered by Fire Records and reissued in the Napoleon Of Temperance compilation of 2006, Cloud, accompanied by various members of Lambchop and Silver Jews, has increasingly found his true voice as a witty outsider on the fringes of American alt-blues – a genre that now, arguably, is as far from the margins as its ever been. Which is why on ‘Flowers’, Cloud takes it to the edge as he mutters, “let Genesis King Crimson smoke your weed… pretty flowers… why do you hate the hippies so much?” Throughout Practice In The Milky Way, Cloud seems tugged by intellect and carnal desire – the dislocated ‘Guy De Maupassant’ is followed by ‘SpottyBird’, in which he is driven insane by the facial complexion of English girls who he threatens to follow home. “Let’s have it off!” Cloud wails along with the guitars. On ‘The Nudist Camp’ he posits that the place for shedding clothes is “a great place for romance” in a growl over a languid backing, like Tom Waits telling smutty jokes at the end of a British pier. Cloud veers between deranged barroom blues of ‘Razmattaz’ to free form rattling about calico, “Me heee co” and “Tex mex” in ‘Surfer Joe’. It’s entirely American, yet somehow taking the piss – which perhaps explains Cloud’s success in Scandinavia, the UK, and rest of Europe, and why the purists might be affronted. But for the rest of us, this wry take on gutter minded blues (see ‘Sky High On My New Bimbo’ and ‘Bring On The Nubiles’ ) is a witty middle finger to classicism. Or, as a female vocal describes Cloud in ‘Mrs Crumb’: “raunchy, reckless and reprehensible… violent and vulgar.” A-men to that.