Vancouver art-punk collective Crack Cloud have announced their second album, Tough Baby, coming Sept. 16 on Meat Machine and the band’s own Crack Cloud Media Studio imprint. Word of the band’s Pain Olympics follow-up arrives accompanied by an elaborate video for its lead single, “Please Yourself,” featuring a cameo by Mac DeMarco.
That we’re hearing anything new from Crack Cloud at all is something of a small miracle. To hear frontman, drummer and lyricist Zach Choy tell it, Pain Olympics was very nearly the collective’s first and final full-length statement: “We made that album with no expectation of making another,” he says matter-of-factly in Tough Baby’s press materials. Part of what inspired the follow-up was the memory of Choy’s father, Danny, who was diagnosed with terminal leukemia at just 29 years old—the age Zach is now. On Tough Baby, as ever, Crack Cloud’s aim is “utilizing art and creativity as a vehicle for healing, discovery and understanding.”
“Please Yourself” is nothing short of an epic, replete with touches both funky and baroque, including brassy horns, arpeggiated guitars and layered choral vocals, with Choy’s inimitable presence at the center. These elements swirl and collide like shards of debris caught in a twister, shifting or stopping abruptly every time they seem to have locked into a groove. The track swerves into a guitar solo adorned with chants of “I want it now,” then an extended piano and spoken-word interlude that turns Crack Cloud’s story into a fable of creativity and healing. It’s the kind of song you can spend hours unpacking, finding new details with each listen.
Choy says of “Please Yourself” and its video in a statement:
As a kid, my bedroom was an altar. The images on the wall represented much of what I idolized and aspired to be. This sort of deification of pop culture helped to reinforce my sense of self narrative, however fabricated. But it also provided a sense of solidarity … with a subculture that validated insecurities in a personable way. This is what makes the media industry such a profound paradox. It is as much a source of inspiration for people, as it is an engineered illusion.
The subtext of the video is really as follows: art is a mechanism for healing and discovery. You learn through it, and you grow with it. In our culture we’re predisposed to quantifying art, to sanctioning it, and to manufacturing it. But underneath all of that, it is a form of living inquiry; it’s how we learn to unravel the extremities in life so that we may better understand ourselves, and each other.
Crack Cloud are currently on tour in the U.K. and Europe, with shows through May, June and July. They’ll share a bill with Osees on a handful of those May U.K. shows.
Watch the “Please Yourself” video below, and see the details of Tough Baby and Crack Cloud’s full tour itinerary further down.
Tough Baby Tracklist:
01. Danny’s Message
02. The Politician
03. Costly Engineered Illusion
04. Please Yourself
05. Virtuous Industry
06. Tough Baby
08. 115 At Night
09. Afterthought (Sukhi’s Prayer)
10. Crackin Up
Tough Baby Art:
Crack Cloud Tour Dates:
12 – Dublin, IE @ Button Factory*
12 – Dublin, IE @ The Workman’s Club (late night)
13 – Dublin, IE @ Button Factory*
14 – Newcastle, UK @ The Cluny
15 – Manchester, UK @ Royal Albert Hall*
16 – Sheffield, UK @ Yellow Arch Studios
17 – Bristol, UK @ The Marble Factory*
18 – London, UK @ Brixton Electric*
21 – Istanbul, TR @ Salon IKSV
25 – Prague, CZ @ Underdogs’
27 – Neustrelitz, DE @ Immergut Festival
28 – Malmo, SE @ Plan B
29 – Copenhagen, DK @ Mayhem
30 – Aarhus, DK @ Alter
01 – Lille, FR @ L’Aeronef
02 – Dijon, FR @ La Vapeur
03 – Dudingen, CH @ Kilbi
04 – Lourmarin, FR @ Festival Yeah!
05 – Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
10 – Bucharest, RO @ Control Cub
11 – Luxembourg, LU @ Usina Festival
07 – Trencin, SK @ Pohoda Festival
10 – Vienna, AT @ Fluc
11 – Pordenone, IT @ Ex Convento San Francesco
12 – Ravenna, IT @ Hana-Bi
14 – Schorndrof, DE @ Manufaktur
15 – Leeuwarden, NL @ Welcome To The Village
16 – Herk De Stad, BE @ Rock Herk (5pm slot)
16 – Nijmegen, NL @ Valkhof (11pm slot)
21 – Binic, FR @ Blues and Folk Festival
22 – Suffolk, UK @ Latitude Festival
23 – Hebden Bridge, UK @ Trades Club
24 – Cardiff, UK @ Clwb Ifor Bach
25 – Guildford, UK @ The Boilerroom
26 – Cambridge, UK @ Mash
30 – Brno, CZ @ Pop Messe
(* = w/ Osees)