“The whole time we were playing “Wasted Days” and the guy behind me kept tapping me and being, like, ‘You should stop playing, you might die.’-Dylan Baldi
One of the most promising acts in truly guitar-centric music for the past couple of years has been Cleveland-based Cloud Nothings.
Songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Dylan Baldi began the project in 2009, writing and recording on his own during his freshman year at Case Western. The songs, which would later come together as the band’s debut, Turning On, were refreshing bursts of some of the best pop-punk and lo-fi garage rock in ages. Baldi’s following 2011 release, the self-titled Cloud Nothings, was an even stronger set that affirmed Baldi’s knack for songwriting and melody.
With his band’s latest album, Attack On Memory, Baldi has brought a darkness to Cloud Nothings that makes for one of the most captivating listens this year. It’s the sound of a young man ( with something to prove, not to his audience or label or any other external force, but instead to himself. Baldi sounds angry, immediate, guttural, honest, and overwhelmingly so.
Dylan Baldi stopped by the XRT’s Heineken Hideaway tent backstage after Cloud Nothings’ epic, but shortened set to talk with Marty Lennartz about their set, recent television debut, and the band’s recording process.
Cloud Nothings Backstage at Pitchfork Music Festival
The band’s show was cut off a little more than halfway through their set due to heavy downpours and associated safety concerns. “The whole time we were playing “Wasted Days” and the guy behind me kept tapping me and being, like, ‘You should stop playing, you might die.’ And I was like, ‘no, it’s cool, dude. I’ll finish the song’” Baldi says.
Attack on Memory succeeds on so many levels and after first listen, it’s hard to recall the last time a rock record captivated so quickly. Gang of Four’s Entertainment and Pixies’ Doolittle come to mind, and that’s some fine company to be in. Baldi says that immediacy comes from the brevity of their recording process. “We recorded ["Stay Useless"] in one take and it took three days to record the whole thing,” Baldi says.
The 20-year-old Cleveland native adds that recording with a band made things easier and much different in the process of making the record. “It was a lot easier, honestly, than recording on my own. And it allowed for things I wouldn’t have done on my own,” Baldi says. “I play bass different than our bass player, I play drums different than my drummer. It was cool.”
The darker territory and refined sound of Attack on Memory may be a result of Steve Albini’s production work on the record. The band recorded the album in Chicago with Albini in his studio. “[Working with Steve] was great. I love Steve. He did almost exactly what I expected, which is what I liked,” Baldi says. “He just kind of stayed out of the way and just made it sound good. He just wanted it to sound as good as it could. That’s all we really wanted him to do.”
Cloud Nothings are touring through the year’s end, and we can hope for some more material from the Baldi and the band soon. Listen here for the full interview with Marty. Attack on Memory is out now on Carpark Records.