Cloud Nothings aren't "the new" anything
Published: February 22, 2012
Comparisons are fucking stupid. The immediate impulse when listening to Cloud Nothings' new post-hardcore (whatever that means) opus (whatever that means) Attack on Memory is to compare young frontman Dylan Baldi to another soft-spoken-though-undeniably-charismatic 20-something songwriter who channeled his love of angry hardcore bands (Wipers, Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, etc.) into inexplicably populist rage, but this isn't then. The '90s — which, like it or not, was when Baldi was born — are gone forever.
The very idea of an MTV-driven monoculture is dead, for example. Cloud Nothings will never top TRL. Pitchfork's Best New Music designation is the most high-profile badge most outside-the-lines bands can hope to earn. Attack on Memory handily copped that shit, but Baldi isn't even sure what that means, at this point. "I don't know," Baldi said of the distinction. "Since it happened we haven't, like, played a show or anything, so I don't know if it will bring a ton of more people out or what. The album has definitely sold more than our last couple of records did."
Internet hyperbole is a currency as spendable as Confederate dollars, a fact Baldi knows firsthand. Though his songs have been getting critical props practically since he first began writing them, Baldi isn't the tragically successful rock star he once might've been, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. "Even though we got attention, we didn't sell so many records at the very beginning that I felt limited," he said. "I felt like I was going to make whatever kind of record I wanted to make and then it's on to the next one."
Case in point: Cloud Nothings' self-titled full-length debut, instruments all played by Baldi, is not the product of a control freak looking to achieve OCD perfection, but the act of a hungry musician sick of hoping others might join him. "It's just because I was the only person where I was at the time, which was in college, who was making music … so I decided to record on my own," Baldi said.
The profile-raising praise garnered by this debut allowed Baldi to recruit a full band for touring, and surrounding himself with musicians, each concentrating on their own instrument, only upped the intensity. "We definitely made a big change," Baldi said. "I was in this position to play more aggressive music, a little more intense."
Hearing the Wipers' stretched-out weighty angst for the first time only upped the ante artistically. Baldi's emotions have not necessarily followed suit. "I didn't get angrier," Baldi said. "I've just been listening to music that was a little angrier, I guess."
While the aesthetic intensity of the album's influences is immediately evident in Cloud Nothings' latest, Baldi maintains his creative voice. "I think the record is already the same kind of songs I've always written," Baldi said. "I just kind of bumped the intensity level up so it sounds like a different band, really, even though I have the same way of writing songs. I just tried to make it more of a sort of aggressive experience than it was before, I guess."
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