Tag: Cloud Nothings
10) Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
Dylan Baldi’s latest album scares me in the most brilliantly amazing way possible. What started a couple years ago as a heavy, low-fi basement project has turned into the most powerful indie-shred rock on the planet. This is perhaps the only band of the past 2 decades that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Nirvana.
09) Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
If the Grammys have any integrity left, then the Shakes should be a shoe-in for Best New Artist. The pulsing soul-rock of the Brittany Howard-led band was my go-to record this year for early Summer evenings in the back yard, and it was hard to find a better match for sharing a cold beer with friends.
08) King Tuff – King Tuff
Tuff creates a world where he coexists with half of himself not giving a fuck about any of the pre-set boundaries of pop music, and the other half acting like the greatest pop-punk scholar of the past 2 decades. It’s an astoundingly warm land to share with him. Holy fuck this album is amazing.
07) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
They really couldn’t have named this album any better – punk rock with the melodies of classic rock boombastics and just the right usage of the word “fuck”. It’s hard not to completely love this album, and upon each listen you discover more subtleties in the recordings that make you realize how perfectly they made this record.
06) Beach House – Bloom
Luckily for all of us, the dream-pop duo essentially just made both a sonically and emotionally twin to their 2010 album Teen Dream with their latest record. Bloom has an extra spark of punch than its predecessor, but still is the most psychedelic drift-off of the year, and Beach House remain the crown-bearers of the dream-pop moniker.
05) Dr. Dog – Be the Void
A lot of the long-time fans of the Dog I know didn’t think this album was up to snub with their other masterpieces – I told them all they were out of their minds. While it may not necessarily have the striking indie-pop hits of some of the earlier records, Scott McMicken is astonishingly at the top of his lyrical game. This album tests how deep you’re willing to go with connecting your heart and soul to a present-minded yet traditional rock band, but the payoff is tremendous.
04) The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
This Swedish singer-songwriter does things with just his lyrics and acoustic-guitar that tens of thousands of folks would sell their souls to be able to do. If you love old-school 60’s Dylan, then this may the first guy who will ever come close to making you feel the same way. His first two albums were great, but this one is perfect.
03) Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
To put it quite simply, there’s basically nobody in the same league as Steven Ellison when it comes to modern creative production. Calling him an electronic producer is an insult – he touches on classical, jazz, ambient, and anything else that would create the perfect sound he needs to manifest. The man is a true artist, and his music deserves to be showcased in the Museum of Modern Art.
02) Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
As crazy as it may sound, I thought things got a little too stream-lined on the last A.C. record, Merriweather Post Pavilion. But on this year’s album, they figured out how to once again mesh their totally nutso attack of instrumentation with the melodic pop sense of the previous record. Some folks found it too jumbled upon 1st listen, but if you give it a chance, it all makes perfect sense. It’s not only the most listenable album they’ve ever made, but my favorite of their career.
01) Sigur Rós – Valtari
The Icelandic lords of all things ethereal have had their fluttering moments of perfection since 1999’s Ágætis byrjun, but Valtari is the first full album that can stand by the magic of that breakthrough. You have no clue what the lyrics mean, but still they seem to shake the essence of your soul. This is music of the angels, and the last necessary piece of the puzzle to define these guys as one of the greatest bands of all time. Prepare for a massive shot of heart quivers.
I’ve been flipping back and forth a lot about whether I should think James Mercer is a total dick for firing everyone who was once The Shins and just making a whole new band out of it. I mean I totally think Billy Corgan is an asshole for that same reason, so I feel like I should try to keep my band-morality ducks in a row, ya know? But then I realized that Mercer is just a wicked introverted cat – always kind of sad and lonesome – and that’s why he is able to write such amazing music. And after this new video for “It’s Only Life”, I’ve decided to hang up all my preconceptions of how the man lives his life and just fucking rock his tunes. Hell, I live in Portland just like he does and I’m well aware of how the drabness can enter your soul if you’re not on top of your game.
Port of Morrow initially seemed too simple for me, even by Mercer’s reductionist pop standards, but lately I’ve been finding myself emotionally owned by its simplicity. The lyrics to “It’s Only Life” make depressing circumstances sound beautiful, and like all of the album it’s draped in a calming tone of acceptance. He’s really able to reach back to that early 20th century vibe when sad songs were what you sang to feel better. He’s kinda like the 21st century’s version of Robert Hunter in the Pacific Northwest. The video itself takes place in a post-apocalyptic PDX, and basically combines the kid from Where the Wild Things Are with the monster-vibe from The Village and imagery directly stolen from this past January’s Cloud Nothings video for “No Future/No Past.” I mean there’s no possible way director Hiro Murai didn’t get at least a little inspired by it. Regardless of that slight artistic stealing though, this video for “It’s Only Life” has my vote for video of the year. It’s tough to make a complete, let alone inspiring story line in under 5 minutes with no dialogue but they totally pull it off. Suck it November Rain…
Get it? They don’t fuck with the kid because he put the antlers on him and his dog – smart thinking, and a killer way to add some past and extension to the story. Totally makes me a little teary-eyed. Yes, I am a pussy. But here, now watch the 5 month old Cloud Nothings video and tell me there isn’t a striking similarity. I do love this video too, and if you haven’t yet gotten into the magical world of Cleveland kid Dylan Baldi, then you’re missing out on the greatest collaboration ever of punk meets post-punk. The latest Cloud Nothings album, Attack on Memory, is at the top of my 2012 list.
50-41 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=122
40-31 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=124
30) Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
- Of all the young kids that Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has obviously influenced, no one has been able to define their own voice as much as this youngen from Boise. Floating vocals are strengthened by big bass kicks and an incredible ear for uncluttered melodies. Trevor Powers sounds like the kid from the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are recording an album in his basement 10 year later – incredibly warm and caring, comfortably alone, and with echoes of Karen O ringing in his ears.
29) Broken Bells – Meyrin Fields EP
- Danger Mouse can bring anybody up a few notches on the bad-ass ladder, and James Mercer should forever be in his debt. There’s just something so much ballsier about these tunes than anything The Shins ever put out. There may only be 4 tunes on this EP, but they’re just as dope as those on the debut LP. This is the kind of music that makes you feel like you’re James Bond stealth attacking an evil-madman’s Icelandic lair while an enormous joint hangs off your lip.
28) War on Drugs – Slave Ambient
- Finally somebody brought a taste of dream-pop into a successful cohesion with that classic Americana feel. Once fronted by Kurt Vile, a whole new lineup seems to have ignited this band into an amazing album that falls somewhere between the land cohabitated by Dire Straits and My Bloody Valentine. Adam Grunduciel has some amazing ideas on here – the kind that make you want to start your own shoegaze band all over again.
27) Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys
- Death Cab makes killer albums, that’s all there is to it. They may always be the great bridge between middle-aged hipsters and tween-age girls, but once you let go of all preconceptions they can totally take control of your heart. There’s no direct radio hit on Codes and Keys, and that’s a good thing. If you’ve spent any time with the classic Transatlanticismi¸ this is in many ways its’ sister album. Incredible drum lines shape the entire album, much in the same way that Jason McGerr helped mold the songs on Transatlanticism, his first album with the band. And portending his breakup from Zooey Deschanel, it’s quite obvious that Ben Gibbard writes way better songs when his heart is a little broken.
26) Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
- I’m sure they let you smoke butts in heaven, and Kurt Vile couldn’t have been more right on then crafting this image for his music. These solo, acoustic tunes are drifty and dreamy, but at the same time they make me want to drink shitty beer. The imagery and flow to the tunes make em’ sound like an old Sonic Youth album stripped down to its’ most naked form. First listen is casual, and then it may consume you.
25) The Flaming Lips – Gummy Song Skull EP (and) Lips w/ Neon Indian
- Wayne Coyne and cohorts have been a friggin’ psych-rock factory the past year or so. It seems like they released a new EP every month, so I had to include 2 here on my list. The tracks contained inside a 7 pound human skull made of gummy sound like a Phish soundcheck where everybody’s trying out a new synthesizer. And of all the collabortations they keep releasing, nothing was more natural than these 4 tracks with Neon Indian. Somehow eerie and uplifting at the same time.
24) The New Mastersounds – Breaks From the Border
- When this English four-piece announced they would be including vocals on their new album, my reaction was “Well, say goodbye to one of the tightest funk acts you’ve ever seen.” But lo and behold, something magical happened – instead of being sonic peers to 1997-era Medeski and Scofield, they became the only band that could ever live up to the heritage of The Meters. Soul, speed, and perfection – you can picture the Neville Borthers cranking this album in their homes.
23) Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song
- My favorite pop-rock band in quite some time. It is insanely tough to write this music without sounding like complete tools, but they mix the ideal parts of melody, fun, and rock to make an amazingly perfect pop album. So much groovier and more interesting than Edward Sharpe or any of the other quasi-popular indie-pops band out there today. I crank this record when I’m home by myself.
22) Tyler the Creator – Goblin
- I haven’t had music make me feel this way since the 2nd Eminem album came out. Inappropriate “F” words flow freely, plenty of murder, and the most innovative beats on the scene today. This is America, and we are legally allowed to be as politically-incorrect as we want to be. You gotta respect a kid who is definitely not afraid to have FoxNews blame him for all our problems. I love this shit.
21) Cloud Nothings – Cloud Nothings
- Dylan Baldi has already released his 2012 album which finds his sound progressing in unfathomably fast ways, but this eponymous disc is his primary statement of purpose. The finest in today’s neo-punk scene – these songs are fast, hard, and yet full of incredible melodies. If the kid likes a line, he’ll repeat it just to the point where you’re ready to bash your head against the wall, and that’s a huge part of the reason why I dig this album so much.
When I first heard Dylan Baldi’s tunes as Cloud Nothings last year, I put the young Ohioan at the top of my list for today’s Neo-Punk sound. His self-titled major-label debut felt like somebody had found a box of lost Buzzcocks recordings. But exactly 366 days later, his latest Attack on Forever, has already found this kid who seemingly hasn’t yet in his life needed to buy a razor, escalating his sound into a much deeper and twisted realm – touching on something closer to The Birthday Party or even dare I say Nirvana. Here’s the new video for “No Future/ No Past” which features an older man getting dragged away in some paranormal fashion – it’s incredible. The song and video both increase in forcefulness throughout, and if you’ve got good headphones, I sincerely recommend rocking them the first time to embrace the full experience of this video. The resonant drone at the end makes the final scene all the better – you won’t even care that Urban Outfitters drops their production logo at the end.
Here’s the intro and link to my review on Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi and his radical neo-punk band, Cloud Nothings: Good shit:
If you’re worried that every new amp-driven indie-rock band has to play neo-surf-punk, then Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings could be playing your redemption songs. Sure to make half of Brooklyn rip their jeggings, up until now Dylan Baldi has recorded all his low-fi recordings in his parents’ basement. With the recent release of his self-title full length debut on Carpark records, (home of my beloved Dan Deacon) Baldi has again proven that in our modern age of over-saturated crap-flop, obsessive production, and heartless electronics, a fly 18 year-old can still make the dopest shit out there in his rents’ mud-room.
Playing all the instruments himself on the recording, Cloud Nothings is fuzz-friendly grit-pop composed by a kid who’s not afraid to repeat himself. Baldi seems to brilliantly reach beyond his age, and intelligently realizes that if a line or a pocket sounds good enough, then it’s probably best to hang around it for a while. Unforeseen loopings of grooves move this music past simple garage rock, and make it lean more towards the music Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) would be making if he wasn’t so sure the whole world was paying attention. And he’s sure got somebody on his team who knows how to make a hell of a video or two.