College can be a demanding time for many. However, that hasn’t stopped City in the Clouds from releasing their debut album, The Contents of Box 212.
The NJ and NYC based college students demonstrate their versatile sound in The Contents of Box 212 – incorporating elements from several genres such as reggae, pop-punk, surf rock, and hip-hop.
City in the Clouds is comprised of brothers Jackson and Brendan Marquardt, joined by Luke London, and Marcus Grey. The Marquardt brothers have found themselves working among some key players in the music industry, previously recording with R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, and touring the US and UK with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
The Contents of Box 212 tackles an extensive range of sounds, evident from tracks such as “Dirty Dan”, which delivers pop-punk and emo sounds, filled with edgy guitars and an electrifying dance beat. Other tracks, such as “Down to Earth”, contain alternative and surf rock vibrations. With influences ranging from Gorillaz to Beach Boys, its no wonder the group provides such a diverse sound.
“Each member is into pretty different music. We’re not really trying to change each others tastes or influences; we’re just trying to make them fit together. We definitely don’t want to have one sound.”
The Contents of Box 212 also features guest rappers, proving the band’s ability to effectively integrate hip-hop sounds onto the album. “Shower Thoughts” pools together hip-hop, surf rock, and rap verses written and performed by R.J. Paige. Meanwhile, “Out to Lunch” features vocals and lyrics by rapper Mak Twain.
“We felt like some of the songs would be good with rap vocals, but we can’t really rap, ourselves. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by really talented people who are down to work with us in interesting ways. We never actually saw Mak while we were working on “Out to Lunch,” but when his vocal track came in at like 1 A.M. after a day in the studio, we couldn’t stop listening. R.J. recorded his track in our dorm room bathroom, which is pretty fitting for a song called “Shower Thoughts”.”
The band also brought in guest singers to collaborate with on the album.
“It wasn’t just rappers; we have a fantastic guest singer, Jenny El-Fakir, on the untitled track. These collaborations really helped to define the album, and we’re looking forward to having more on the next album.”
Not only does the group embrace several genres throughout the album, but song topics as well, including the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando (“Circulation)”, and waking up with a hangover (“Shine”).
Throughout the album, Ads for a fictional company known as CloudyCity, Inc are played between tracks, leaving a humorous impression from the band. For example, at the end of “Shine”, a witty Ad for Cloudy City shampoo and conditioner plays: “Cloudy City shampoo with conditioner is sure to give you soft, shining hair that will catch the eye of that special someone. Just don’t get in your eye. Cause that shit burns.”
“CloudyCity, Inc. is a fictional company that represents the concept of consumerism at all costs. The fictional company is your go-to source for anything and everything. The concept is that CloudyCity, Inc. cares about one thing – sales. So, in addition to being our record label, it has a wide variety of other business interests. And we advertise some of their consumer products (food, shampoo and medicine) on our album, The Contents of Box 212. The ads actually fit in pretty nicely. We wanted to make the album feel as if it takes place over the course of a day, so the advertisements kinda serve as breakfast, lunch, and dinner (along with showering in the morning and taking medicine to go to sleep at night). It all leads up to the consumerist nightmare on the title track.”
City in the Clouds also takes pride in their visuals, with band members using their art skills to create music videos for their new tracks. A satirical music video for the track “Out to Lunch” is on its way, and features an animated Donald Trump.
“Our drummer, Brendan Marquardt, animated it. Took him a long-ass time, but we think it paid off. In our opinion, Donald Trump is an absolute embarrassment to our country, and we think the video captures that by making him look foolish. But, toward the end of the video, it also makes him look scary. Brendan did a great job of capturing the ludicrous nature of this presidency.”