Album Review

Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else (2014) Review

Spring time and stomp boxes, it is time to ring in the warmer weather with some distortion and a bit of yelling!

Here and Nowhere Else doesn’t sound like a brand new set of ideas but much like Japandroids – Celebration Rock, it knows what it is and what it wants to do…..and it does it very well.  From the very first distortion drenched chords of Now Here In, the table is set for 8 songs  and 32 minutes that never let up.  These are 8 aggressive pop songs that can be compared to the aforementioned Japandroids or even the catchiness of early Weezer records minus the cheese.   It can be viewed as an extension of what Cloud Nothings did on their previous record Attack On Memory, but there are some noticeable differences that help elevate the band.

The differences come in the production and mixing of the album.  On the Steve Albini  Produced Attack On Memory lead singer Dylan Baldi’s voice was cleared up in the mix and the attention of each song was more focused on his voice than it was rest of the music.  With Here And Nowhere Else the band had another famous producer John Congleton (Modest Mouse, The Walkmen, Bitch Magnet) behind the control board and he found a better way to capture and deliver the energy of the band.  Baldi’s voice often washes into the cathedral of distortion and drums and that is a good thing.  His voice fits really well as a melody within the music and the instruments all sound a little looser.  A second difference can be heard in the mixing clarity of the instruments.  Albini tightened things up like he does on a Shellac record, but the drums and bass tones aren’t Shellac, so the tightening only moves them to a grey area instead of making them pop.  Congleton freed up the guitars and cymbals to let them ring and rock.    This is an album that is more about feel, which is part aggression, part pop and the mixing balance helps meld the two together.

Dylan Baldi’s song writing has never been stronger as evidence in album standouts Psychic Trauma, Quieter Today and I’m Not Part Of Me.  Each tune has a killer hook such as the steady lead in to Psychic Trauma which builds at a decent tempo before it explodes with intensity.  The same can be said of the 7+ minute Pattern Walks which has Baldi repeating the song title several times before it dissolves, erupts, then turns into a trippy ending.

I can’t say it enough, this album is incredibly pop but it is also incredibly loud.  It is a great blend of two different tensions and while it is only 8 songs long, you never feel shorted by the quality.

Score – 9.0/10

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