Reviewed by Hannah of Rock My Commute
Now this is the kind of album I have been waiting for! Clouds That Dropped You is something that sounds new enough to be exciting, but familiar enough to be instantly appreciated. His picture may look a bit like Justin Timberlake, but according to his bio just five years ago Joshua Mash was playing gigs in NYC under the name Shilo Andrews – now he is Silas Fermoy and the sky is the limit. I foresee great things for this talented, fresh and innovative artist.
On the first track – “Passed Time” – the Hammond Organ sound starts simply enough, with a little choral reverb and static-y sound featuring prominently within the clearly sung lyrics. You’ll notice this sounds a little bit like the Killers, but more upbeat and lighter – with a great indie whine on the guitar solo. The song is catchy and pleasant, with a message about how “you never grow but you feel safe anyway” that breaks into a call-and-response-chorus with a great complexity of sound effects. It finishes with that cool, retro fade effect that I adore!
The second song starts out both romantic and poetic, while being edgy at the same time. Then it just bursts into a full blown chorus with rolling drums that call to mind the days of 311 from the 90s (remember “Down”, “Amber” and all of those great sounds”?). The vocals are extra-echoey here, with a lower register twin on the backing vox – think Temper Trap on “Sweet Disposition” and you’ll know exactly what I mean! I think the downtime break in the middle is extra-good, and there is also an ethereal and dreamy bridge with great guitar that drops back to remind you of some of the great emo bands you used to love, as Josh croons (“In this boy’s world, in these green eyes, in these cruel skies”)…
“Way Up High” opens with bright, positive guitar arpeggios filled in with thoughtful drums and instruments. Here Josh sounds like Adam Levine, as if Adam were singing at a 50s sock-hop – but not as corny as that sounds. Musically speaking, this could be based on a preset from your Casio Keyboard or an 80s video game blended with a Dashboard Confessional sound. The lyrics are cute, (“The grownups they won’t understand; you know why, the universe is in your hand”) while the production on this is truly tight and the mixing is great. The song ends with the kind of power guitar I just love, before settling back to the more delicate style of the opening.
“Clouds that Dropped You” is the title track (#4), and it is definitely the slower and more lyrical song on the album – like a carefully crafted Guster song. Once again, there are great beats here, just like on the whole album – it really moves into a driving piano based beat on the chorus. I can also see a little Arcade Fire influence here, with a great rocking guitar under delicate vocals. However, I do feel like sometimes the songs on this album move through too many elements and exploratory phases in a short time span – personally I think it is OK for a piece to just sound like itself. With that said, there are absolutely no moments when the music is stagnant; when the songs do not feel full of movement. Change can be good!
“Future Self” opens delicately with familiar guitar (like the Gin Blossoms‘ “Found Out About You”) but it quickly gets more aggressive – while still in always an upbeat, major key. The lyrics are clever, quick, and they fit the instrumentation perfectly. Another artist this track makes me think of is Oasis – as it gives me the feeling of being young and edgy again (so perfect for summer)! There is an awesome drum segment that reminds me of seeing Paramore live in concert – Josh (or should we say Silas Fermoy) and the band can really make this rock out as long as they want to.
The album closes too soon with track #6 (“Annabelle”) – apparently about a special friend – and features caring lyrics over almost hip-hop beats in the background (“long ago that girl who roamed at night, eyes proposing flight…”). It gives you that melancholy feeling that yet still leaves you in a good mood, like a Morrissey song. I loved all of the instrumentation on this; just layer after layer building upon itself.
Overall, I have to say that this release has so much energy, and attitude! I love Josh’s expressive voice, with the unique and extra-wobbly vibrato on the sustained notes. The music is definitely danceable on almost every track, without losing substance or becoming too “bubblegum”. And there is nothing distracting about the quality of the recording – it is truly a well-planned and well-produced piece of work. You will really enjoy this!