Band of the Day

2012.01.18

Giant Cloud

Flowing melodies and sweet rhythms that float along serenely
Let go of your old thoughts, we've got some new thoughts. But hold on to the old souls you've kept inside of your mind.
lyrics from Old Soul

Giant Cloud is a psychedelic folk collective from New Orleans, Louisiana. Forming in the Summer of 2008 (referred to by the band as their own "Summer of love"), the group consists of Benjamin Jones (guitar, co-lead vocals), Julie Odell (rhodes, co-lead vocals), Preston Whittenburg (guitar, vocals), Trey Stephens (bass) and Anton Overby (drums). Although based out of New Orleans, where the group communally lives, Giant Cloud formed in the small town of Ruston, Louisiana - the same town that '90s indie legends Neutral Milk Hotel and Rob Schneider of Apples In Stereo come from. The group takes influence from historical Americana, folk and ragtime, as well as from '60s artists such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. Their sound fluctuates between earthy folk roots and psychedelic dream pop, while retaining modern indie sensibilities. Giant Cloud released their debut EP Old Books on Park The Van Records in 2010, and their debut LP (Bloom & Decay) in November 2011.

Giant Cloud are one of those bands whose name couldn't be more fitting for the type of music they create. “Rainbows,” the very first track off of their EP Old Books, starts off with angelic “oohs” and “ahhs” that makes you feel as if you're floating serenely through the heavens, enveloped in wispy white masses of water droplets. The voices of co-lead vocalists Benjamin Jones (who also plays guitar) and Julie Odell blend together beautifully on lines like, “I see the light as it's melting.” With their two voices combining into one harmonious entity, it comes as no surprise to find out that they're married. Alongside Jones and Odell, the Louisiana-based five piece includes Preston Whittenburg on guitar and vocals, Trey Stephens on bass, and Anton Overby on drums. Their Southern upbringing comes through their music, with songs like “Fingernails” that have the hushed beauty of watching fireflies twinkle around Spanish moss from the comfort of a rocking chair on a wraparound porch. While many of the tracks on Old Books have this acoustic ambient feel, others take a different approach. “Strange Peaches” has a great, upbeat ragtime tempo shift that will have you thinking you've been transported to a traveling carnival at the turn of the 20th century. And with its oom-pah-pah rhythm and horns, “Old Soul” sounds like a combination of old-fashioned circus, Vaudeville, and gypsy music. Alongside being the last track on the EP, it's also the longest at just under 8 minutes. But with the cacophony of sounds, there are enough interesting lyrics, like “Let go of your old thoughts/We've got some new thoughts/But hold on to the old souls/You've kept inside of your mind” to keep it from feeling like it's dragging on.