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Adam Franklin & Cloud Cult 

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Ballroom dancing
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Dancing With the Stars
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Dancing With Myself

Adam Franklin, Spent Bullets

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Adam Franklin originally played guitar in the Stooges-titled band Shake Appeal, but gained widespread attention for the London-based group Swervedriver who, along with My Bloody Valentine and Ride, offered an English response to American grunge (only they paired their distorted guitars with less assaulting vocals; more a dizzying whirlpool of sound than the sometimes violent tornado of Nirvana and Mudhoney). Swervedriver was appropriately titled, guitar-effect pedals sometimes mimicking the screech of an automobile swerving, yet never crashing, and avoiding the self-destruction of some other bands of the period.

In the 2000s, Franklin re-created his musical identity post-Swervedriver with Toshack Highway, a more folksy yet still musically adventurous combo. In 2007, a disc that was to be the next TH album became the first Adam Franklin solo album, and Spent Bullets is the second act. It does not disappoint. “Teardrops Keep Fallin’ Out My Head” blends psychedelic effects with memory, as through the haze of cinematic flashback. The track “Bolts of Melody” serves as a kind of theme song for this band that strips Franklin’s music clean of everything but its essentials: crystalline melodicism, and his voice that has always risen above the maelstrom, with a few guitar riffs to keep your head reeling. Franklin is “spent” in the sense that he’s never wasted any musical inspiration, but he’s still capable of proliferating stunning sounds. (Second Motion)

Cloud Cult, They Live On the Sun/ Aurora Borealis

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Your hippie alarm might go into overdrive when you first hear the story of Cloud Cult, a Minneapolis ensemble founded by singer Craig Minowa 15 years ago. After passing on several offers from record labels, Minowa started his own Earthology label on his organic farm, producing CDs from completely recycled materials, touring in a biodiesel van and donating all profits to environmental charities. And their name is taken from ancient Native American prophecies. At this point, you might just throw up your hands and say, “I’ll just catch them on a Bonnaroo DVD” but they are “hippie” more in the way Animal Collective and Flaming Lips stretch the term, for the new indie set who wouldn’t be caught “Dead” wearing tie-dye.

They Live On the Sun (2003) and Aurora Borealis (2004), which marked the apex of the group, have been reissued in double-disc remasters. The former disc’s opener “On the Sun” starts out with the lyric “We’re all made of galaxies and weeds, and someday we will live up on the sun.” It’s a good synopsis of their music, which mixes electronic and organic elements, including violin—not as cosmic as Flaming Lips, yet less earthbound than Animal Collective, spanning an impressive expanse in between. (Earthology/The Rebel Group)

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