Something Out of Nothing

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings have appeared from the ether to strike excitement and spastic dance moves into anyone with the gall to call modern rock “dead.”

A mix of earnest Weezer-style slack rock and emphatic power-pop hooks in full Oasis mode punctuates refreshingly non-trendy shrieks from a disenchanted Cleveland garage band. Attack on Memory (Released Jan. 24; Carpark Records) dazzles cynics with heartfelt honesty, explosive sonic craft work and a surprisingly fresh and vibrant take on simple ideas to create what may be the first great album of 2012.

The album immediately strikes the listener with the band’s instrumental skill and precision while maintaining a stripped-down raw sound firmly rooted in rock ‘n roll. With tasteful technical precision rarely seen in a blue-collar punk band since the days of The Strokes, the two guitarists harmonize colorful, suspended power chords, often overshadowing twisting, minimal lead guitar melodies which leave the listener confused after tricky repetitions.

TJ Duke’s bass rumbles with tight, insistent grooves that accelerate the band into a frenetic urgency, while Jayson Gerycz bashes the drum into ear-rattling beats primitive enough to excite the mood of every song with dynamic range. Dylan Baldi leads the band with raspy surf melodies, naturally transitioning into enraged screams, which repeatedly chant satisfying hooks evocative of the dark side of youthful, innocent insecurity. Cloud Nothings rock with a unity rarely seen in a music scene currently dominated by one-man bands and vanity projects.

Attack on Memory shines the brightest in its tremendously enjoyable mix of catchy pop melodies and complex art rock themes. Producer Steve Albini stays true to a reputation for stupendous lo-fi production, reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate’s sloppily enlightened madness mixed with the recently washed-out, charismatic haze of the Wavves filled with surf rock reverb that occasionally implies U2-style gospel influences.

Most valuable is the group’s ability to mix progressive elements into quick catchy structures for emotional effect and sonic exploration while remaining accessible, fun and unique. Cloud Nothings refuse to spoon-feed brain dead foot tappers sugar-coated pop melodies or pander to the sneering non-commercial rockist elite, crafting an elegant balance that is sure to satisfy both sides.

Cloud Nothings have created a rare album inviting multiple listeners with a fresh sound able to sate any music enthusiast’s appetite.  The best tracks are “Fall In,” “Stay Useless” and “Cut You.”  Attack on Memory is a fantastic album, leaving listeners eager for this great new band’s next release.

3 stars