Cloud Nothings

Published on November 1st, 2019

Cloud Nothings by Daniel Topete

Since his days in college posting homemade recordings under fictional band names, Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings has combined the search for perfection in song with defense against personal demons — his and ours. The result is a collection of heart-piercing melodies and devastating hooks we can all take up as protection.

It might be a product of his outcast teens — “I was really weird in high school and I didn’t have a lot of friends,” he told his tiny interrogator on YouTube’s adorable “Kids Interview Bands” channel a couple of years back. It might be a self-effacing midwestern-ness, bolstered by an underdog mindset that comes naturally to northern Ohio, home of struggling sports franchises and a humbled industrial base. Baldi has probably heard the “Hello, Cleveland!” joke more times than he cares to remember.

Whatever the origins, as Cloud Nothings jumped from MySpace to reality, Baldi the singer, guitarist, songwriter and bandleader grew into one of the sharpest songwriters and smartest chroniclers anywhere in punk of 21st Century letdown.

With “Last Building Burning,” he has outdone himself. Cloud Nothings’ latest album churns darker and denser, and slashes harder, than the four previous albums from 2011-2017 that marked the band and its frontman as urgent messengers. The first track, “On an Edge,” announces the album with a fury that is less submerged and more forward than ever. When Baldi screams, “Can’t remember a name,” and the instrumental section is at a dead-run thrash, the air of crisis may be personal or universal, but the warning is clear and stark.

The power-pop moves that echo the immortal Buzzcocks are still there in the frenetic plea of “Leave Him Now,” but the gut punches of “In Shame” and “Echo of the World” vent spleen worthy of Against All Authority or Leatherface at their most fed up. In the slow, tattered arpeggios of So Right and So Clean, and then the adrenalized release of the album’s closer, “Another Way of Life,” we get a tart, sarcastic sadness and then a bolt of recognition that attitude alone won’t save us. Change is required.

Cloud Nothings, with The Appleseed Cast and headliner Cursive, play an all-ages show 7pm Saturday November 16 at The Ground at Club Space in Miami. ~ Sean Piccoli

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