01 January 2013 (released)
20 April 2013
So it begins with a symphonic guitar sweetener named ‘Prelude’ that prepares the listener, a little inadequately, for what’s to come. The Black Clouds’ self-produced, recorded and funded album, ‘Better Days’ is an album that tries to pay tribute to the hard rockers of the 70s onwards, once again attempting to establish that alternative rock still has a mass market that needs to be serviced.
The New Jersey four-piece are loud, hard-hitting but display an organisation that has been lost in many modern forms of the rock genre. They daren’t cross the line into rock forms that may obscure their grungy riffs and authentically classical rock approach. Better Days displays their passion without going into the realms of the incomprehensible or the extremely controversial. So, in that way, they’re unlike a band like Black Sabbath for instance who would dabble in occultist themes.
Lead singer, Dan Matthews, has a very familiar pitch and intonation to his voice that listeners could be forgiven for mistaking. Let me just assure you that, before you listen to the album believing Kurt Kobain to be alive and continuing his work, he’s not. Matthews is clearly just influenced by the deceased frontman and the band deliver similar melancholic leitmotifs so, at least, they’ll be sure to snare the interest of the cult following of genuine alternative rock fans.
The percussiveness mixed with the precision and quality of the entire album is a testament to these men who, with a lot of determination, have managed to churn out an album completely by themselves and without any fancy cosmetics added to their sound. Better Days is prototypical rock and roll that suggests, much like its title, that the genre still has better days to come.