Whether part of a band or a bedroom rock act, Cloud Nothings under the leadership of songwriter Dylan Baldi have provided an alternative version of pop punk. His personal mixture of melodic angst loans from midwest emo and bedroom moans but instead of veering into the dramatism lacking any and all self-awareness, Baldi backs his songs up with effortless hooks stemming from seemingly personal themes. His peak is still his previous record Attack On Memory, a upbeat yet depressing collection of post-hardcore cuts tied together by the theme of having ambitions in your head but being too weak to make them come true, in turn ending up lying in bed and hating yourself for not having the spirit to stand up. Cloud Nothings’ new album Here And Nowhere Else may not have that emotional edge but it deals in different goods.
Following a fulfilling and detailed production from Steve Albini, who according to Baldi didn’t do that much, Cloud Nothings are back to simpler times. Here And Nowhere Else is loud and based around the power of a power chord. But the lo-fi production here can sometimes feel like a backtrack, a retreat from valuable gained ground. But on pure melodic value, the album is yet another winner and possibly the band’s most consistent effort to date. The highlight here is the closer I’m Not Part Of Me, one of the highlights of the year and certainly the melodic diamond among Cloud Nothings’ first four albums. Featuring two choruses battling it out for the pure catchiness, the song is relatively lengthy but packs so much energy that it feels too short. The same can be said about much of the rest here. While the verses take some time to warm up to, especially since Baldi’s vocals are now laid under thick lo-fi fuzz, the choruses are all immediate.
Pattern Walks is another standout. The longest track on here, the first half of the song is typical strength to strength Cloud Nothings fare. The second half though is the only part of the album that dares to take risks. Featuring a coda that melts guitar and minimalist piano into a psychedelic kaleidoscope, the track tries its hand at gentle expansion and succeeds, though it does remind us of No Age just a little bit. For the most part though, Here And Nowhere Else is meat and potatoes Cloud Nothings. Not an expansion as much of a perfection of ideas already established with their previous albums. If Baldi’s idea of perfection means immediacy hidden under guitar dirt, then the record is pop hardcore perfection. If we’re simply talking about great and passionate punk rock, Here And Nowhere Else is a serious contender for yearly glory too.
MV for Leisure Suit Preben by Todd Terje, taken from Norwegian producer’s debut LP It’s Album Time, out now.
Wait For A Minute by Tune-Yards, the second single from her third album Nikki Nack, out May.
Alright then, let’s just admit that nostalgia is really getting out of hand and every new music aims for nothing else that a modern emulation of a trend gone by. The War On Drugs used to be a band that combined americana, folk and ambient music into a reverb heavy, trendy haze that sure is pretty to listen to. But on their new album Lost In The Dream, the band really turn this contemporary meme into a parody of the band and their influences. While far from bad, The War On Drugs’ latest album is contrived to sound like America’s great heartland rock soundtrack.
Where you will stand on an album like this pretty much depends how much you enjoy the music created by its very direct influences. There is every chance that a dad rock icon like Springsteen will soon enjoy the sort of hip renaissance that Fleetwood Mac are currently enjoying. And in part, Lost In The Dream will be an album that will push the new generation towards a reevaluation of one of the least cool musicians in rock pantheon. Much in the vein of Kurt Vile’s brilliant Wakin On A Pretty Daze record last year, The War On Drugs take past and stretch it out into lengthy seven or so minute songs. Majority of them exhaust themselves within four minutes but instead of lingering on they complete with codas that are usually the best things here. But the problem is, unlike a revivalist like Vile, The War On Drugs have zero charisma or storytelling ability. Lost In The Dream is basically a rip off of a rip off of a trend that requires personality to pull off.
The War On Drugs at least do a more than honest representation of the heartland rock sound and if there is someone out there who still has dreams of driving their dodgy pickup into the sunset, tracks like Under The Pressure and Red Eyes make a pretty exhilarating soundtrack. But that complete lack of creativity and personality strikes on the second half of the record which is a drone to get through thanks to the fashionable but so bloody tiring reverb which is the king here. Lost In The Dream is a decent listen that can be exciting at its peaks. But every single second here screams Springsteen to the point where you may as well listen to Darkness On The Edge Of Town or The River, unless of course you find Springsteen uncool.
2 is 8 by Lone, the first single from UK producer’s new album Testing Reality, a wholly different creature than the neon coloured 2012 effort Galaxy Garden.