With Not Lame sadly discontinuing its own label last summer, Kool Kat stands alone as the top independent power pop label in the USA, and they've done a great job over the past few weeks and months. Their most notable release of late is Cloud Eleven's Sweet Happy Life. Cloud Eleven has quite the impressive track record (2002's Orange and Green and Yellow and Near belongs in a top 20 pop records of the decade list), and Rick Gallego & Co. have turned in another quality disc here.
Sweet Happy Life is one of those records that demands to be listened to the old-fashioned way: straight through. Listening the way I normally do to music, random tracks on the iPod, radio-style, I was a bit underwhelmed at first. But after listening to it as a whole, I came away considerably more impressed. It's quite a mellow, laid-back affair, but if you let it in, its melodic beauty will overcome any thoughts of "when is this going to start to rock a bit?". For me, the highlight of the disc are the middle three tracks of "Innocence", "Sea & Soul" and "Wishing".
You can listen to a couple of tracks at myspace, sample them all at CD Baby, and when you're ready to buy, make sure you go right to the source, as Kool Kat is offering up a free bonus EP of demos with purchase of the disc.