Material: This eclectic Austin-native group became an intriguing six-piece act when one of its two founding members left. The band has truly found their strength with an alluring sound that cannot be categorized into one genre. With a solid foot in the alt-rock pool—Death Cab for Cutie comes to mind—the group does not shy away from incorporating pop and synth elements into their refreshing brand of “ambient pop,” which could be an enjoyable staple on mainstream radio. Tracks such as the atmospheric, rock-leaning “Fifty Four” and slow-building yet stadium-worthy “Tonight” are a couple of stronger cuts.
Musicianship: For a six-piece project, it could be easy for an instrument to get lost in the noise, forced into the background. Luckily, that never happens for the Clouds Are Ghosts. While Paul and Parker initially drawn in the audience with a passionate energy and immense talent, it is Fillingame on keyboard who retains attention with a soft, tranquil vibe supported by a countering assertiveness from Bowers on drums. All these lively instruments act as the perfect support system for Morris’ lead vocals of course, as he gives his all on every note, knowing when to remain subtle and maintain control when necessary.
Performance: While the overall performance differed from their night club comfort zone—playing on a Saturday afternoon—they put on a respectable show too good for an outdoor festival. There was an energy present, one that continued to draw in bystanders, and though it may have been toned down given the time and place, the calming yet alert vibe was never lost. The band came together harmoniously for a performance that sounded as alive as on their studio album recordings.
Summary: The Clouds Are Ghosts are a compelling and interesting band that continues to grow brighter and more confident. Their unique blend of numerous genres effortlessly comes together for an edgy sound that has not been heard before. This sound is only heightened in a live setting where the rock elements of the performance showcase the group’s impressive musical range.
With more time and a few more distinctive songs, it would not be surprising to hear this refreshing act on the airwaves soon.
The Players: Jason Morris, vocals; Erin Fillingame, keys; Steven Paul, guitar; Michael Parker, guitar; Jon Klekman, bass; Earl Bowers, drums.
Venue: Pecan Street Festival
City: Austin, TX
Photos by Ashley Treat