First Impression: Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

The First Great Album of 2012?

Most modern indie bands sound like they’re either trying to revive the electronic 80s or the Lo-Fi 90s, and Cloud Nothings falls under the latter.  Cloud Nothings started as a project of Dylan Baldi, an Ohio-bred rocker who probably grew up on Pavement and Guided By Voices records.  His two previous albums sound exactly like midwestern DIY – self-produced, in your face, distorted, and with plenty of attitude.  This time around, Baldi got himself a producer (Steve Albini in fact) and the two, along with a legitimate band, have made Attack On Memory, the first great album of 2012.

Things start off nice and slow, somewhat unusual for a Lo-Fi album.  On album opener “No Future/No Past”, Piano soon gives way to drums, than guitar, then Baldi’s vocals.  The drumming gets more intense, the guitars louder, and Baldi sings with more passion until everything comes together in a great Lo-Fi moment.  Most of the album feels like this, different pieces floating around seeming out-of-place until they come together nicely for the chorus.  The guitar is the star of the record, which is refreshing considering that few indie albums lately have put any real emphasis on the guitar.

Baldi is a great Lo-Fi singer, which means you can’t understand every word he says, but he’s passionate about everything he’s saying.  He was smart to bring on Albini to produce his album, whose impressive track record includes Nirvana’s last album In Utero and Pixies’s Surfer Rosa.  Thanks to Albini, songs that would have been forgettable now will make you want to sing along with.  The nine minutes of “Wasted Days” might drag on, but that’s the only time the album ever feels slow.  In fact, the album isn’t slow enough.  Clocking in at thirty-four minutes, Attack On Memory feels more like an EP than an actual album.

The unfortunate thing with an album like Attack On Memory is that once you hear one Lo-Fi album, you heard them all.  Much like Yuck’s debut album last year, the album plays off as a tribute to a genre.  So while the music is great, there’s nothing really here to discover.  I listen to this album thinking there’s more to come, but I am disappointed.  I am also disappointed in the lack of variety in the songs, but Lo-Fi music isn’t really known for variety.

It’s important to keep in mind that Cloud Nothings have only been around for two years and it already is making an evolution from a bedroom project to an actual band.  Attack On Memory makes me excited to see what else will come from Dylan Baldi, and now I have some good tunes to listen to while waiting.

Overall First Impression: A well produced album that still feels like it was made in the bedroom.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

Highlights: “Fall In”, “Stay Useless”, “Cut You”

Rating: 3/5

“Stay Useless”

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