Published Jun 09, 2012Former frontman for the Buttless Chaps, Dave Gowans may have humorously announced his new band as being Winnipeg's Crash Test Dummies, but it was obvious Cloudsplitter was a Vancouver supergroup. Backed by Fond of Tigers' Stephen Lyons on drums, Swank guitarist Doug Liddle and esteemed Hive Studios producer Jesse Gander switching between bass and keys, Gowans has a booming yet laid-back baritone with thoughtful, witty lyrics, the likes of which evoke Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt and Jim Reeves. Liddle humbly commanded stage left, providing the expected country sounds of the lap steel and banjo, as well as tasteful guitar, while the exuberant play of Lyons saw him frequently bounce off of his stool. Their style of alt-country shows flashes of '80s electronic influences on record, but the live experience was more like hearing folksy yet rocking back-porch jams tempered by years of life experience, even through a well-received New Order cover. Cloudsplitter's casual appearance and modest banter couldn't hide their resolve, lacking any pretense that they were going out of their way to impress anyone. Not that they weren't trying, but they were controlled and self-assured in an unassuming way.