Cloud Nothings has come a long way since its inception in 2009. What started off as a solo project by lead vocalist and guitarist Dylan Baldi has turned into a full-fledged alt-rock powerhouse. After years of experimenting with lo-fi and garage elements on multiple albums and EPs, Cloud Nothings came into their own sound with 2012’s “Attack On Memory,” a heart-pounding and captivating album filled with powerful, introspective lyricism that hits you like a bullet in the heart. The latest offering by the Cleveland rock band, entitled “Here and Nowhere Else,” picks up where “Attack On Memory” left off, but takes the music to an entirely different level. This album is grittier, more raw and more personal than any previous Cloud Nothings album. The straightforward-yet-complex eight-track LP is a beautifully crafted, adrenaline pumping work of art that enthralls listeners from beginning to end.
While an album with only eight songs might seem too short to capture listeners’ attention or convey a story, the album’s opening song, “Now Hear In,” does all of that within the first minute. As the song begins, listeners are greeted by a flurry of distorted guitar riffs. After a couple of seconds, the guitar riffs are met with uncompromising, fast-paced, hardcore drumming that rattles your eardrums. The overwhelming instrumentation leads up to Baldi’s revealing opening line, “I go outside and see all these things that should be real.” This one line, along with the thrilling guitar chords and drum rhythms, sets up the fast pace, melancholy tone and intimate lyricism of the entire album. Drummer Jayson Gerycz and bassist TJ Duke remain in sync with Baldi as he raises and lowers the volume of his vocals, gradually increasing with intensity up until the chorus, when Baldi breaks into a guitar solo, bringing down the song’s tempo. “Now Hear In” transitions perfectly into the album’s following songs, making one continuous and fluent grunge-garage opera revolving around themes of seclusion and disconnection.
What makes “Here and Nowhere Else” so endearing and close to home is Dylan Baldi’s very open and personal lyricism, laying down all of his anxieties and fears on each and every track. On “Psychic Trauma,” Baldi reminisces on old memories and lost connection. “You’ll never be here, it’s hard to explain / Psychic trauma returns with age,” Baldi croons throughout the song. The song’s bare lyricism is elevated by the band’s unrestrained intensity. Baldi’s gritty guitar riffs and Gerycz’s smashing hi-hats and kick drums provide the feelings of rawness that exalt the emotions running through Baldi’s lyricism. The band’s vulnerability increases with every song, peaking with the album’s ending song and standout track, “I’m Not Part of Me.” Here, Baldi relinquishes his anger and frustrations and moves away from the past. “I’m not, I’m not you / You’re a part of me,” Baldi chants over crisp, clean guitar melodies and drum rhythms. Baldi’s bare-bones lyricism carries the album from start to end, enticing listeners with honest and introspective lyrics.
“Here and Nowhere Else” is the final draft of lead singer Dylan Baldi’s initial story, which started with 2012’s “Attack On Memory.” Carrying the same tone as their previous album, Cloud Nothings become even more vulnerable, increasing the rawness, loudness and realness of the instrumental recordings and lyricism. Although only eight songs, “Here and Nowhere Else” paints a indie-punk masterpiece, filled with grimy guitar riffs and devastating drum patterns, taking listeners on a journey into Dylan Baldi’s memories. It is a heartfelt album that lays its fears and emotions on the line, and succeeds in connecting with its listeners. While Cloud Nothings already have a few solid albums under their belt, “Here and Nowhere Else” is an accumulation of all of their past works, as well as a massive step into new musical territory for the young Cleveland band.