Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Album Review: Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else

Cloud Nothings
Here And Nowhere Else
Rating: Woof Daddy

Sometimes you just crave a great rock n' roll record, with blistering, hook filled guitars, pounding drums, and rumbling bass lines; no muss no fuss rock. On their last record Attack On Memory, Cloud Nothings almost made a perfect record which, for me, was only hampered by some needlessly long songs that tended to overstay their welcome. Here, their latest record Here And Nowhere Else takes off brilliantly from that last record's template and aside from one 7 minute track, blasts through perfect three minute tracks full of amazing melodies, bratty attitude, and enough force to blow a building down. Moving from Steve Albini's more murky production on Attack On Memory to a clearer, more focused approach from John Congleton, Here And Nowhere else has a singular focus that propels the record forward at a breakneck pace, which each moment more dazzling than the next.

The record starts of deceptively simple with the almost staid track "Now Here In," until the track picks up steam and the guitars and drums feel like they are going to fly off the rails. The band shows amazing control throughout the record, threatening at each moment to lose control, but always taking charge at the last second. The garage rock bluster of "Quieter Today" bashes and thrashes around like a epileptic fit, before smashing headfirst into the pop perfection of "Psychic Trauma" which finds guitarist/singer Dylan Baldi struggling to keep the lid on his increasingly frantic vocals.

The complaint I have heard about Here And Nowhere Else is that there is not enough variety on the record, that it is merely one blitzkrieg guitar attack after another, and it is perhaps a valid criticism, however, to me, the variety comes in the almost endless array of hooks Baldi and company throw at you. "Just See Fear" and "Giving Into Seeing" trade off guitar bluster and bass-lead fury, respectively, all leading to standout track "Pattern Walks," the 7+ minute penultimate track, a frantic, edgy, manic track propelled by a tight as a vise drum track, with the guitars barely being contained, finishing out with a coda that shows a more textural side to the band's approach.

The record definitely saves the best for last with perhaps Cloud Nothings' best song, "I'm Not Part Of Me," a focused and hooky track that trades attitude for nuance and maturity, but still retains the same feel and energy of the rest of the record.

While stylistically, Here And Nowhere Else is not that far removed from Attack On Memory, there is definite move towards an more measured and adult approach to making a record. This doesn't mean that the record lacks youthful vigor or is a somber experience, but merely that there is thought and purpose into these songs, with Baldi's songwriting and musicality showing intense promise. While I am sure there will be many more good rock records out this year, it is doubtful one with come as close to perfection as this one.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

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