Cloud Nothings

Some bands never miss. This rare breed consistently puts out great records every couple years, avoiding the lengthy hiatuses or egregious sonic missteps that often come with achieving longevity. It’s an often unsung reliability, as few realize how truly remarkable it is to put art into the world at this rate without letting the quality slip. For nearly 15 years, Cloud Nothings have continued to hit the target, steadily becoming a part of the fabric of modern indie rock as we know it with a run of fantastic albums. This streak continues unabated with their latest full-length, Final Summer–an album that’s so assured, so instantly satisfying, that it forces you to pause and realize you’re listening to one of the great American rock bands in their prime.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist/vocalist Dylan Baldi, Cloud Nothings evolved over the years from a one-man lo-fi project into a finely tuned unit also composed of drummer Jayson Gerycz and bassist Chris Brown. Cloud Nothings, over so many years and so many records (nine or ten “depending on how you look at it,” laughs Baldi), have existed long enough to witness all sorts of musical moments come and go, but the secret to their endurance isn’t about savvily navigating trends. “We’ve just never felt inclined to stop,” Baldi explains. “It’s not like this makes us millions of dollars, but it’s a great gig, it’s what we love to do.” Gerycz adds, “It’s just still so fun every time we do it, every time we go get in the basement and start writing.”

And it shows. Recorded with Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, Torres, Purling Hiss), mixed by Sarah Tudzin (Porches, Tim Hiedecker, Pom Pom Squad), and mastered by Jack Callahan (Ryley Walker, Merchandise, Wolf Eyes), Final Summer is bursting with the unbridled joy that only comes from playing guitars and drums loudly. This is not the work of a scrappy new band cramming all of their ideas into a debut album or grizzled veterans grinding through another release: it’s one of the tightest and most invigorating rock bands active today, driven to make the best version of themselves. “I just like making things,” says Baldi. “I love having something that I’ve made by the end of the day, even if it’s just one song. It’s like proof that my day happened. I’m just always trying to refine the thing we do, which is to make songs that take you from one place to another.”

Very few bands take listeners on that kind of journey within a hooky rock song as effectively as Cloud Nothings, and the album’s opening title track proves exactly why. A wash of crackling synths sets the scene before the band roars to life with a cutting riff and Gerycz’s driving beat. From there, it’s layer after layer of interlocking melodies and guitar lines, all rising action while Baldi lays out the album’s overarching lyrical ideas. “It’s about feeling alright in the moment,” Baldi says. “A lot of these songs sort of ended up being about getting by or trying to keep improving despite everything.”

His lyrics often take on a mantra-like quality, using repetition and a one-of-a-kind delivery to dig something deeper out of observations about the mundane or frustrating parts of life. On early Final Summer standout “I’d Get Along,” Baldi repeats “if something would happen with me…” over and over, each time adding to the tension before the track’s truly massive chorus explodes with a cacophony of fuzzed-out guitars and a howling “I’d get along.” Throughout the record, Cloud Nothings strike their trademark balance of inventiveness and accessibility, with every track full of hooks but also the kinds of details and twists that reward repeat listens. “The Golden Halo” feels like a two-minute-long chorus, hook after hook careening forward with a motorik beat and ever-growing sea of voices, while elsewhere songs like “Mouse Policy” or “Running Through The Campus” take very literal ideas and spin them into something else through walls of thick bass and thunderous distortion.

On Final Summer closer “Common Mistake,” Baldi sings, “This is your life, it’s a common mistake. We’ll be alright, just give more than you take.” It’s the kind of deceptively direct lyric that he excels at, a clear and real sentiment filtered through a melody that’s stuck in your head before the end of the first chorus. The line could almost be an accidental mission statement for the band itself: a group that creates with a workman-like commitment, providing listeners with something authentic and artful at an unflinching pace. Cloud Nothings don’t miss, and you won’t want to miss them either. 

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Sun 5.26
Live Nation Presents:
Show: 8:30 pm
Cafe Du Nord
21 and up