Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

27 May, 2014


Photo Cred: Fanart.tv





By Dan Owens



If you want something to blame for the advent of punk, the unwillingness of mid-70s glam and prog, excepting the anomalies of Bowie and the Floyd, to confront the real issues of the day, is certainly the prime culprit. Retrospectively remembered for its safety pins and shock value, punk rock waded deep into the murky concepts that were bolted at by its contemporaries. A calculated assault on inequality and ignorance, punk often took the form of a rapid-fire street sermon, spitting out, with considerable bile, vital meditations on war, violence, adolescence and prejudice. It may have traded on three chords and teenaged delinquency but in its very best instances, think The Clash, The Pistols, Richard Hell, gave a much-needed shot in the arm to those with their heads in the clouds. 


Endlessly cyclical, pop music, like history, is destined to always repeat itself. Sonic movements arrive as reactions against the day's prevailing vogue and then, after a few years, are once again replaced by an antithetic sound. Faithful to this idea, as the noughties became the tens and music was beginning to slip into an electro-induced coma, its defibrillation was carried out by the unlikeliest of sources, Cloud Nothings, then the vanity project of visceral balladeer, Dylan Baldi. His bedsit experiment reached its zenith on 2012's 'Attack On Memory', the first Cloud Nothings album to feature Baldi's live band in playing and songwriting capacities. Universally considered to represent the apex of a new wave of punk, 'Attack on Memory' brimmed with derision and disaffection, recalling the legitimate anger that permeated many of the genre's '70s touchstones.


Since then, the likes of Parquet Courts, Drenge and Eagulls have taken up Cloud Nothings' minimal, gritty mantle, but none have quite managed to equal the seething chaos that Baldi managed to perfect on his opus.  So, with the intention of rescaling the punk rock pile, Cloud Nothings are back with a fourth album in five years and, despite being minus the services of supplementary guitarist, Joe Boyer, have, in 'Here and Nowhere Else', added another succinct, caterwauling masterpiece to their oeuvre.


Sounding very much like it has leapt out of Baldi's insides and inner workings fully-formed, the album that ends the two year-long wait for Cloud Nothings to showcase a new long-player, is a caustic, taut and intense affair that holds a mirror up to the average millennial- a person recognised for being perpetually angsty, anxious and a victim of psychic trauma.


Whilst it takes up mid-period Radiohead's ethos of framing introspection and internet-age malaise within the parameters of punchy guitar-based rock, 'Here and Nowhere Else', unlike 'OK Computer', manages to steer clear of studio trickery and places little emphasis on making the songs shimmer and shine. Instead, they're left to fester in a hysterical ambience that reflects Baldi's tumultuousness, deriving their power from a pervasive amphetamine rush and a host of irrepressible hooks.


The record wastes no time in heading for the jugular with opener Now Hear In starting off slow, Baldi's earnestness cutting deep, before erupting into a full-scale riot, frenetic guitar shreds supporting Baldi's progressive cynicism and sticksman Jayson Geryz's clanging cymbals channelling the spirit of New Rose-era Rat Scabies. A careering energy replicated on Quieter Today, the album hurtles along at breakneck speed and threatens to implode. And by the psychotic Yankee drawl of Psychic Trauma, implode it does, its attack too ferocious and abrupt to be encased in the confines of a compressed file.


When the band do decide to change things up and transgress the boundaries of the punk playbook by embracing a self-indulgence that their forefathers sought to expurgate, on the mesmeric Pattern Walks  (which clocks in at over seven minutes) they still manage to retain their characteristic vitriol.


Celebrating disengagement and disparity throughout its sub-35 minute running time, closer I'm Not Part of Me, in its urgency and economy, neutralises the hubris that populates Pattern Walks and ranks amongst Baldi's most accessible anthems. It's an ode to despondence and destruction sanded down by a chorus, ravenous yet melodic, that begs the listener to screech along in unison.


In an indie landscape becoming dominated by ethereal and ebullient 80s-infected electronica, Cloud Nothings stand defiant in their glorious punk accoutrement. Picking up where 'Attack on Memory' left off, 'Here and Nowhere Else' confirms the band's status as musicians of the highest order, unafraid to experiment but with a sensitive awareness of their best assets, one of the albums of the year. 









Primary Genre: Punk Rock

Secondary Genre: Grunge, Lo-Fi

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Label: Carpark Recordings

Like this and you'll probably also like: Eagulls, Black Lips, Drenge

Album highlights: Psychic Trauma, Now Hear In, Quieter Today







Cloud Nothings - I'm Not Part of Me






Cloud Nothings - Psychic Trauma





Cloud _nothings _9134-640


Photo courtesy of the band