Back in 2018, Los Angeles’ Cloud released their sublime, quite possibly final, album, Plays With Fire. Drawing a raft of great reviews and support across the musical spectrum, Plays With Fire showcased a band at their creative prime. Around this period, the band played a, “brief but breathless”, live show at the North Hollywood venue, Kulak’s Woodshed, that was recorded, and recently put out by the Audio Anti-Hero label, both as a record, and a high-quality video recording.
If this is a goodbye from Cloud, this live album is a timely reminder of why they charmed so many along the way. The record features previously release material from both Plays With Fire and their earlier record, Comfort Songs, alongside a couple of songs that never saw the light of day. We are particularly enamoured by Good Things, a song that combines an almost camp-song like sing-along with a Paul Simon-like guitar line and Animal Collective’s use of a repetitive, gently evolving rhythm track. Elsewhere there’s moments of fractured passion, like the epically noisy Mother Sea, and the lush minimalism of Comet Happer, that almost sounds like a modern re-interpretation of the The Byrds.
Live at Kulak’s Woodshed is a beautiful snapshot of Cloud and what they meant to many. Sure they didn’t sell out Wembley or headline Glastonbury, they didn’t even play live that much, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important a document of a creative soul at work. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to Cloud yet, this might just be the perfect gateway to the wonders that lie in wait.
Today, Tyler Taormina from the band had put together a mixtape featuring some of his favourite live recordings and bootlegs, featuring the likes of Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Aislers Set. Check the recordings out, alongside Tyler’s introduction below.
Live music used to be a huge part of my life. When I lived in Boston I was seeing about 5 shows a week. I lived for the community of music lovers whether they be in basements, art spaces or six hundred capacity rock venues. I’ve grown more distant from live music for several reasons. I think it’s because I’ve grown immensely interested in the documentation aspect of studio recording. I think it’s safe to say that in terms of my own music and the music that I’ve grown to love, the studio recording is just as important if not more important than the song itself.
Having said all that, when a band or artist can bring out that raw untreated component music holds at its core within a live performance, it’s something I cherish very much. Here are a few examples of live recordings that perhaps overtake the studio recordings that popularized the songs. Hope you enjoy them and support live music because that’s for better or worse how these artists make their living!
1. Panda Bear – People Party
A bootleg of a live performance which was called People Party around the Person Pitch era. This is my very favorite live recording to listen to. It’s perfect. ’Song for Ariel’ is incredible with that Zombies sample, his version of Chores is beautiful and hearing the Person Pitch songs in their time is amazing. Also– ‘Laughed for a World Filled with Fantasy’ what a tune and perfect Scott Walker nod.
2. Khurangbin – White Gloves
Not sure if Tiny Desk Concerts count but this has been on rotation on my computer for a little bit now. Khruangbin! In theory, not my style and music that I would typically enjoy but damn, this is some great music. Recorded SO WELL and the version of ‘White Gloves’ is even better than the studio which I never really fell for this band as a studio band anyhow.
3. Animal Collective – Live @ Other Music
Sorry to double AnCo on here but this Animal Collective live set at Other Music in 2004 is pretty incredible, especially because most of this material you cannot find elsewhere. Just in this live bootleg! I have fallen so deeply in love with this set, it’s wonderful.
4. Slowdive – Live On KEXP
This is an unbelievable live set performed at KEXP by slowdive in support of their incredible comeback record from just a little while ago. I’m sure many of you have seen this but if you have not…. What a treat!
5. Mark Kozelek – Have You Forgotten
Another example of a live recording that is just perfect! Mark Kozelek performing a dreamy rendition of ‘Have You Forgotten’ at the Great American Music Hall. Speaks for itself. One for the books.
6. Neutral Milk Hotel- Live at Bottom of the Hill
1998. Incredible set. Some of these live versions work even better than the studio recordings and include rare tunes like ‘Ferris Wheel on Fire,’ ‘Ruby Bulbs’ and more. Also, the drumming live by Jeremy Barnes is like 1,000x more intense and better than anything you’ll hear on record. With their pervasive, iconic status it’s easy to forget that this band is incredible.
7. The Aislers Set – John Peel Session
Do Peel Sessions count? Aislers Set are one of my favorite bands that people don’t seem to talk much about anymore. They rocked hard and this Peel Session is proof! I love best the Peel Sessions version of ‘The Walk.’ That song is the best and their live version of it is so impressive. Amy Linton’s voice has always dazzled me. Thanks, John Peel!
Live At Kulak’s Woodshed is out now via Audio Antihero. Click HERE for more information on Cloud.