By Marcia Hunt
The cover of Little Cliff’s album give us the goods. Photo via Bandcamp
give us the goods is the latest release from indie artist Little Cliff, aka Purchase Junior Neil MacLeod. The seven-track album, which was released September 4th, is an impressive album that strongly showcases his musicianship.
He has a fine grasp of his sound, expertly blending elements of “singer/songwriter, alternative, experimental folk, and grunge,” as he put it. Creating an album rich in swoon-worthy vocal harmonies and ethereal electronic embellishments, he stated, “I really wanted it to sound sort of freaky at times, to embellish on something that could sound commonplace.”
The album is a journey, with songs that take you through elements of his life, specifically his time at Purchase. “(The songs) are all pretty reflective of the past 12 months,” he said.
He began developing the album in September 2019, when he wrote “On the News,” a song about losing touch with people. It features Purchase’s Kristian Pitaccio on drums and Matthew Kleitz on bass. Little Cliff himself plays keyboard, guitar, some drums, and does vocals on the rest of the tracks.
The first song, “Lemon Tree”, opens with the line, “Don’t you think that it’s a strange world?” This sets the tone for an album, one that ponders what is to come. He recalls the lemon tree he tried to grow in grade school which, unfortunately, grew thorns and not lemons. His lyrics truly emphasize that life itself, especially now, is just as bittersweet.
“Primate Hearts,” the third song (and one of his favorites), features the line: “move your hips, shake that mortal coil,” a cheeky homage to the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Like the young prince, he’s pondering life.
“Maybe our generation is going to see the end of life as it has been for decades. We’re all just trying to figure out how our lives work,” he said. The lush harmonies in this song make this my favorite of the album as well.
To me, “Judgment Day” is the most notable song on the album. Through a flavorful chordal progression and heavily embellished vocals, it truly feels otherworldly. It is also the timeliest piece, being explicitly about the Coronavirus pandemic. Little Cliff remarked, “In unprecedented times, music really helps.”
This album is a testament to his insane musical talents and to the inclusive music scene at Purchase. He recorded the album entirely in the Purchase recording studios and was primarily inspired by other Purchase-based musical artists.
What truly shines through is his empathetic spirit. “I want to encourage people to be kind to themselves and when listening to this, give themselves a little cry,” he said, hopeful that his album can win a spot in people’s pandemic lives. He also hopes that people will consider purchasing the two bonus tracks on Bandcamp, as all streaming profits for this album will be donated to Border Kindness, as well as individual bail/food funds.
Overall, this is a sincere and timely piece from a talented member of our Purchase community. If you’re looking for something new, be sure to give this album a spin!
About the Author:
Marcia Hunt is a junior journalism major with a sociology minor. She has just transferred to Purchase College this semester. As a former flute performance major, she has an extensive background in music, so she looks forward to immersing herself in Purchase’s music scene. Her favorite genres of music are alternative rock and indie pop.