Arts & Culture

Cloud Nothings showcase angst and fun in new album

With fast pace and fierce energy, band will bring punky edge to Spring Weekend lineup

By
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Like all great angsty rock music, Cloud Nothings’ new album finds just the right balance of hooks and shouting, anger and catchiness, fun and catharsis.

Cloud Nothings, performing at Saturday’s Spring Weekend concert, is an indie rock trio from Cleveland, Ohio, led by singer and guitarist Dylan Baldi. In 2012, they broke into the open with the release of “Attack on Memory,” an album that landed on a number of best-of-the-year lists and marked a departure in their sound, as they moved away from power-pop and into heavier — and punkier — territory.

Their new album, “Here and Nowhere Else,” continues that transition. Clocking in at a brief 32 minutes, “Here and Nowhere Else” is barely longer than an EP, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in aggression and energy. Its short running time is filled with nothing but fast, catchy, dirty indie rock. Backed by blown-out, raw production, Cloud Nothings launch into track after track of assertively catchy songs. The album almost sounds like a live recording, with Baldi’s vocals a bit buried in the mix, his lyrics often obscured under layers of churning guitars. His voice is recorded in such a way that it sounds like he’s breaking the mic, each shouted chorus throwing off bursts of distortion.

Being so short, “Here and Nowhere Else” is easily consumed as a whole. The opener, “Now Hear In,” is one of the strongest songs on the album. It bursts forth with an amazing energy and intensity, pulling listeners in with one of the album’s best hooks (see also: “I’m Not Part Of Me,” “No Thoughts”) and setting the stage for the next half-hour of music. The only breathing space on the album is the third track, “Psychic Trauma,” which starts off slower, a respite from the intensity of the first two songs. But the relief is short-lived: Right as the chorus starts, the song explodes and continues at this same frantic pace through to its finish, at which point drummer Jayson Gerycz goes — for lack of a better word — nuts.

Gerycz is one of the album’s best elements. His fevered drumming drives every song forward beneath the raging, distorted guitars.

Perhaps the highlight of the album is its penultimate track, the seven-and-a-half-minute “Pattern Walks.” The song follows in the footsteps of Interpol’s “PDA” and Pixies’ “No. 13 Baby,” which are also propelled from good to amazing by their extended outros. While Gerycz continues to hammer away at the drums, the guitars in the last two minutes of the song take on an almost ethereal quality. Vocal tracks echo over one another, turning into a repeated chain of “I thought. I thought. I thought.” These parts keep building on top of each other, each second more frenzied than the last, bringing the song to a mesmerizing, cathartic, almost haunting end.

There isn’t really anything that doesn’t work. On “Here and Nowhere Else,” all the songs are at the very least solid and catchy. But  it’s not a particularly ambitious or experimental work. It’s basically the same mix of noisy guitar, bass and drums throughout, and is more of an expansion of their previous album — all the things that worked on “Attack On Memory” have been refined and kicked up a notch. “Here and Nowhere Else” is catchier, rawer and more energetic, their overall sound tweaked to ragged perfection.

This isn’t a timeless record, but if you’re looking for some catchy and trashy indie rock a la Japandroids, “Here and Nowhere Else” will absolutely hit the spot. One  can only imagine that the live sound emulated on the album will be even better, well, live.

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