Those who spend any time hitting the live music scene in Central Oregon will likely have seen the name AM Clouds—maybe at Bend Roots Revival, or even just last week at the Volcanic Theatre Pub. The band plays a mix of alt-rock to pop and its upcoming album, "Rainmaker," sounds like it could have been made in the '90s or 2000s—but not for one minute does it sound outdated.
"We're all really proud of the record," lead vocalist Bruce Moon told the Source. "We obviously worked really hard on it and spent a lot of time on it. And I think that it shows. It's probably the most professional-sounding album that I've been a part of."
As the band's Facebook bio reads, AM Clouds was formed by two ex-Portlanders and two California transplants in 2016. Bruce Moon, Graham Boostrom, Pete Ficht and Dan Paggi make up the band, all bringing talents as multi-instrumentalists and experience in previous groups.
AM Clouds began recording "Rainmaker" in the spring of 2018, laying down some of the original tracks at The Firing Room in Bend. From there it was six months of tracking in Moon's home studio, and then working with Jeff Stuart Saltzman in Portland to mix the album. By then, the end of 2019 was approaching, so the group decided to wait and kick off 2020 with a new album.
"It can be tough to know when to say when," Moon said. "Our bass player Pete Ficht, he co-produced the record with me. He had a big influence on how we approached the instrumentation and the vocals."
The album opens up with "Tune Me In," a poppy-rock jam that helps set the rest of "Rainmaker" in motion. Moon says the band didn't know "Tune Me In" would end up at the beginning. It was a song the band started using to open up its live shows to build momentum. It just stuck.
AM Clouds plays a show with Cosmonautical and The Color Study at Volcanic Theatre Pub Jan. 31. The three groups have never played together all at once—but the hype is real, because these are some of Bend’s finest bands.tweet this
"The members of the band all have pretty wide-ranging taste in music. And we're all kind of music geeks. I think that there are several eras of rock music that we all draw inspiration from, from the '50s all the way up to the present," said Moon. He told me one of my other favorite songs, "Milk and Honey Blues," almost didn't make it on the record. He wrote it less than a month before AM Clouds started to record the album—so it hadn't had time to "gel." It's probably the most different-sounding song on the album, but in a good way. It offers a really neat spin on a modern blues-rock song. As a listener, I'm glad it made the final cut.
On "Rainmaker," a few common themes are in play, Moon said—some of them being technology and how it affects us personally, as well as relationships, observations of human nature and more.
"I think that the smartphone has been around so long that a lot of people have forgotten what life was like without that. The first lyric on the album is 'A TV in every pocket of every dreamer of the dream,' and I think that's something that we need to keep in perspective," says Moon.
To celebrate the upcoming album, AM Clouds plays a show with Cosmonautical and The Color Study at Volcanic Theatre Pub Jan. 31. The three groups have never played together all at once—but the hype is real, because these are some of Bend's finest bands. Those attending can buy an album at the show, but the official release date for "Rainmaker" is Feb. 14. After four years of becoming a part of the scene and crafting its own sound, there isn't anything better than this moment for the band.
"It's going to have a great energy. I think it's going to feel like just a great celebration for the band, to be finally getting to share the music with people. We're stoked."
AM Clouds Record Release Party
Fri., Jan. 31, 8-11:30pm
Volcanic Theatre Pub
70 SW Century Dr., Bend