Random Wax: Josh Zanger - Cloudkicker 'Beacons'


November 13th, 2015 by bsradmin

We like to listen to vinyl on Fridays here at BSHQ, and we're starting a new tradition. Each week someone will close his/her eyes, randomly select a record from his/her personal collection, and bring it to the office. The person has to explain why the album is on his/her shelves, and then we listen to the album. We call this 'Random Wax.'

Today's contestant is Bloodshot publicity pilot Josh Zanger! He randomly selected Cloudkicker's Beacons. Here's his explanation on why it's in his collection.

"This record has a really unique story behind it. Cloudkicker is the nom de plume of Pittsburgh’s Ben Sharp, a one-man band who apparently does the whole thing himself: writing, recording, mixing, and mastering from his home. While some home recordings can end up closer to lo-fi on the sonic spectrum, Beacons – and really all of Sharp’s 13 albums (sans a live record) – is fully fleshed out and sounds like it was performed by a full band in a pro studio, an achievement in and of itself.

Beacons came out in 2010 and had a sort of cult buzz around it as an instrumental heavy rock/melodic metal/mathy album from a mysterious artist who never performed, didn’t do interviews, and self-released his music. A friend and former bandmate hipped me to it in the car on the way to practice and I later listened to the album in full on Bandcamp and was immediately hooked. To support an artist doing it on their own, I tried to buy the LP but it was sold out, so I stalked the page for a few months until Sharp posted that he was doing another pressing and I immediately bought a copy.

The album begins with a looped, menacing guitar riff that goes on for 41 seconds before it launches into the post punk rock/metal thrash-meets-dexterous prog guitar note tapping of “Here, wait a minute! Damn it!” Another aside here is that the song titles are all intense declarations (“We’re goin’ in. We’re going down.”, “We were all scared.”, etc.) that form a theme alike most Cloudkicker releases. When Sharp did a Reddit AMA sometime after the release he explained that the titles were all taken from the last few lines from cockpit voice recorder transcripts, further heightening the balancing tension of the songs. I love that sort of backstory.

Anyways, enough of the faux crit-speak, this album is for those times when you need a boost – whether it be the day after a reeeeal late show or the night before you go out to a reeeeal late show. I’ve put Beacons on the record player in those situations enough times for it to be a standby. My girlfriend just loves that. (Not really.)

Check it out here, and throw the man some money. (FUCK, it’s now on its third pressing and is available on blue and gold vinyl with black splatter.)"