Cloud Nothings Throw Out the Past and Start Again

April 13th, 2011

Cloud Nothings – Mercury Lounge – April 12, 2011

Cloud Nothings began in the Cleveland basement of an 18-year-old Dylan Baldi. He spent hours making up fake MySpace band pages and putting up his tracks, covered in hiss and fuzz out of necessity, not design. Just a short year later finds him as far from that room as he could have imagined: releasing two albums—an EP, Turning On, and a self-titled LP— playing onstage on the Lower East Side, blasting the Mercury Lounge crowd with brief guitar-driven punk songs. As well as the material worked under layers of cassette hiss, the tracks, when performed live, have a completely new life, thanks in great part to Jayson Gerycz on drums, who drives the frantic, jangly chords past playability on a stripped-down minimal kit.

Their raw catchiness is only improved by this over-the-top gutsy approach that was taking its toll on Baldi’s vocal chords as he paused between songs to reach down to take a swig from a plastic honey bear. “This next one is a tough one … it needs some honey.” The music exists somewhere between the Violent Femmes crystal-clear melodic sentiment and Wavves sincere enthusiasm. It feels calculated and almost slow compared to this frenetic explosion of perfect complex overhaul. The crowd grew closer and closer to the stage as the night went on, and even the completely new material was just as great as his standards.

Essentially, the strength of these songs comes from Baldi’s talented songwriting. You can execute them any way you want and they hold up across genres because they have a combination that only exists in youth and reckless abandon, throwing out the past and starting over, consequences be damned. With time the stages will undoubtedly get bigger and the distances surely find him farther and farther away from that basement. —Jason Dean