As a pretty astute fellow, I’ve gotten used to the modern methods of music discovery, getting passed a recommendation for a band or a link to a video then scouring the internet for their music. I’ve discovered some interesting music on YouTube, including the requisite cute stuff you expect online. I’ve also managed to follow one or two insta-stars from the reality sector.
I discovered Aaron Freeman’s Marvelous Clouds the old-fashioned way: I got into a friend’s car and it was in the CD player. The music was catchy and I was instantly attached to a few of the songs.
After repeated listening, it’s clear to me that the man formerly known as Gene Ween put some work into this album, which is chock full of covers of tunes written by 60’s kitsch poetry mogul Rod McKuen.
Some of the songs, especially the title track and Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name, are instant favorites. The songs flutter rather gently from genre to genre, with Marvelous Clouds importing the listener into a minstrel dance (in between the patter of gunfire) and Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name taking up an almost Jimmy Buffett feel and still delivering a stronger record than most of the previous attempts. Love’s Been Good to Me makes me envision a black-and-white video of a tuxedo clad crooner singing a late-50s rock ballad and dancing with a silver microphone on a stand, hair slicked back and all. It’s another of my favorites and already dropped into a few of my playlists.
The album falls flat a couple of times. Most noticeable on Pushing the Clouds Away, Freeman tries an experiment in spoken poetry that is disconcerting more than pleasant, but when he goes back to it at the end of the final track, The World I Used to Know, memories of Sonic Youth’s In The Kingdom #19 hit me and I followed this album with EVOL, a move I highly recommend.
Overall, the album is impressive. Serendipitous discoveries are some of life’s greatest moments. While a small minority of the tracks didn’t turn me on, there are plenty to populate my playlists.