Future Clouds & Radar: S/T (2007)

A relatively unknown but intermittently astounding indie pop album that answers the question: What happens when you give a power pop refugee with unbounded musical creativity access to a studio and the latest technology, but no editor? You get a sprawling double-album that ranges from glorious baroque pop music to silly self-indulgent experimentation, peppered with a handful of insanely catchy earworms.

Robert Harrison is the co-founder, singer, and guitarist for Cotton Mather, a crunchy power pop outfit active in the late 90s and early 00s (and recently returned after a long hiatus). (There's an exhaustive overview of Cotton Matther over on Toppermost today!)

During that band's time off, he recorded a ton of material with various musicians under the moniker of Future Clouds & Radar. Musically, think edgy, post-Beatles psychedelia-tinged pop like XTC side project Dukes of Stratosphear, Jellyfish, Beagle Hat, and the Pillbugs. Shades of Guided by Voices and the Kinks crop up as well.

As noted, given the seeming lack of limitations, it's a bit of a gleeful, kid-in-a-candy-shop mess; it could have been pared down into a fantastic single LP. As it stands, it's more in White Album (or Wowee Zowee) territory, but if you work your way through it you're going to find plenty that grabs you. Personal favorites include they joyously tuneful "Build Havana" (sounding like singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston with a bubbly electronic beat); the mid-tempo psychedelic pop of "Hurricane Judy"; the orchestral Beatlesque flourishes of "You Will Be Loved"; the galloping riff-rocker "Holy Janet Comes In Waves"; the relatively straightforward sunshine pop balladry of "Our Time"; and the skewed, Fountains of Wayne on acid "Altitude." But the two dozen or so songs here kinda beg for you to jump around and program your own faves.

Here's "Build Havana":
"Holy Janet":
"Dr. No":
"Hurricane Judy" (audio rip):