by Tim Draut
Cloud Nothings is the punk-rock/power-pop brainchild of Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi, who has stepped out of the basement and into the studio to record his self-titled full length LP. The album is currently out on Carpark Records. Providing all the vocals and instruments on the album, Baldi has made the transition from lo-fi bedroom artist to studio quality pop rocker without sacrificing an ounce of intensity.
Although this is not really a “post-punk” album, it is definitely a punk-inspired pop album. This style is established right off the bat with the lo-fi tease on the opening guitar riff to “Understand At All,” before it kickstarts into a full-bodied power-pop anthem.
The punk influence becomes most apparent on the following track, “Not Important,” where Baldi lets loose and suspends some of his bratty innocence by belting out the brash vocals (“You’re just stupid/ And I’m so lazy I don’t care/ About your problems!”) and shredding on his guitar. It seems like he lets out most of his aggression on this one track, as he goes back to being “cute” on the catchy pop single “Should Have.”
Most of the stand-alone songs are placed on the first half of the album, or “Side A” if you will, but the second half still catches you by surprise with some really interesting, catchy pop choruses, especially on the song “Been Through.”
The studio quality of the album definitely accentuates Baldi’s abilities as a musician. He serves up some pretty crafty guitar work, and isn’t too shabby on the drums either. His vocal style fits the music, somewhere between the likes of Wavve’s Nathan Williams and Magic Kids’ Bennett Foster, even changing his pitch slightly on different songs to match their melody.
Cloud Nothings is catchy in the best possible way, with enough youthful energy to keep the teenagers moving and the adults nodding along instead of screaming for their kids to turn it down, depending on how “hip” the parents are of course. The songwriting is even professional enough to appeal to twenty-something music “critics,” speaking for myself at least.
This LP will make a great addition to your record collection as long as you can comfortably afford it. If anything, it’s worth a listen. The energy, musicianship, and production are all pretty undeniable, but the sweet and sassy pop-punk style might not suit everyone’s personal taste.
The album sounds fantastic on vinyl, by the way, giving off universal “youth culture” vibes that span generations. It still sounds okay digitally, but this is a really fun record for bouncing around your room while it spins around the turntable. Just be careful not to, you know, knock it over or something.
Understand It All