Cloud Nothings Attack On Memory

CAK70

Jan 24th, 2012

In 2009, Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi began writing and recording lo-fi power-pop songs in his parents’ basement, dubbing the project Cloud Nothings. His music quickly started making the Internet rounds, and fans and critics alike took note of his pithy songcraft, infectiously catchy melodies, and youthful enthusiasm. Baldi soon released a string of 7”s, a split cassette, and an EP before putting out Turning On—a compilation spanning about a year’s worth of work—on Carpark in 2010. January 2011 saw the release Cloud Nothings’ self-titled debut LP, which, put next to Turning On, found Baldi cleaning up his lo-fi aesthetic, pairing his tales of affinitive confusion with a more pristine aural clarity. In the interval since the release of Cloud Nothings, Baldi has toured widely and put a great deal of focus on his live show, a detail that heavily shapes the music of his follow-up album, Attack on Memory.

After playing the same sets nightly for months on end, Baldi saw the rigidity of his early work, and he wanted to create arrangements that would allow for more improvisation and variability when played on the road. To accomplish this desired malleability, the entire band decamped to Chicago—where the album was recorded with Steve Albini—and all lent a hand in the songwriting process. The product of these sessions is a record boasting features that, even at a glance, mark a sea change in the band’s sound: higher fidelity, a track clocking in at almost nine minutes, an instrumental, and an overall more plaintive air. The songs move along fluidly, and Baldi sounds assured as he brings his vocals up in the mix, allowing himself to hold out long notes and put some grain into his voice. Minor key melodies abound, drums emphatically contribute much more than mere timekeeping, and the guitar work is much more adventurous than that of previous releases.

For all of early Cloud Nothings’ fun and fervor, Baldi admits that it never sounded like most of the music he listens to. With Attack on Memory, he wanted to remedy this anomaly, and in setting out to do so, Baldi and co. have created an album that shows vast growth in a still very young band.

Tracklisting

1. No Future/No Past
2. Wasted Days
3. Fall In
4. Stay Useless
5. Separation
6. No Sentiment
7. Our Plans
8. Cut You

Audio

Other Info

Press Photos

Artist Bio

For a band that sticks to its impulses instead of trends, Cloud Nothings accumulates critical praise and loyal fans with the type of ease modern rock bands can only dream of. That’s because the Cleveland four-piece is the byproduct of Dylan Baldi, a frontman whose melodic intuition and musical fervor are as innate as they are impressive. Baldi’s early indie rock songs welcome pop warmly without sounding trite. His later alt-rock hooks are too busy criss-crossing guitar lines to overthink things. The urgency he writes with comes across in the vividness of his guitar. Since expanding his solo project into a proper band, Baldi has positioned Cloud Nothings as the torchbearers of the frenetic, visceral, and thundering rock of bands like The Wipers and Drive Like Jehu. It’s all alternating resolves and anticipated breakdowns. And live, it’s near impossible to dispute talent that palpable.

Looking back, it makes sense how Cloud Nothings got here. At the age of 18, Baldi gained attention after a string of lo-fi songs he recorded in the comfort of his basement began circulating online. It landed him a spot on a buzzed-about show in Brooklyn where, in turn, he caught the eyes of Carpark. His music began its upward ascent immediately. In 2010, Carpark released Turning On, a retrospective combo of the band’s debut EP and various 7” singles. Cloud Nothings unveiled their self-titled LP the following year, a record that showcased how crisp Baldi’s hooks sound when given proper studio time. But what followed in 2012, their breakthrough LP Attack on Memory, paved a new path for the band. The album saw Baldi throw himself into his guitar while collaborating with the rest of his touring band—drummer Jayson Gerycz, bassist TJ Duke, and guitarist Joe Boyer—to create an aggressive, unrelenting, and throat-scratching album that captured not just their sound, but their collective raw energy. Cloud Nothings fleshed out that sound further on 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else, this time as a trio after Boyer’s departure. Even when Baldi, in a decision to feed his quiet fondness for pop, used 2017’s Life Without Sound to showcase his melodic inclinations, he showed a continued growth in his songwriting skills.

Cloud Nothings fold all of that forward momentum into their newest record, Last Building Burning. Just over half an hour in length, the album is a singular listen designed to mirror the experience of their live shows. Gerycz and Duke propel the rhythm section with their fastest speed to date. Baldi and guitarist Chris Brown reshape converging guitar parts into double-edged swords, reaching beyond power chords for instantly pleasing riffs that are urgent in delivery. Though the record touches on various sounds of the band’s past—“Another Way Of Life” digs its toes into the harmonies of Life Without Sound and “On An Edge” recalls the blistering peaks of Here and Nowhere Else—it showcases how untouchable the band has become. Cloud Nothings are a permanent staple of what rock music should sound like: gritty, caustic, and tireless. In that, almost a decade into their career, Cloud Nothings have become a reference point for budding rock acts while perpetually looking to outdo themselves as they go.