When I first heard the hype about the Cleveland pop-punk outfit Cloud Nothings, I instinctively thought, “here’s another Pitchfork favorite, named-after-a-cloud-something band.” This past weekend, however, fellow DJ Matt Kalan and I sat down and listened to Cloud Nothings’ self-titled album, and my preconceived notions were completely changed. This album marks the transition of 19-year-old Dylan Baldi’s power-pop solo act from his basement to the studio, and the difference is notable, not to mention impressive. The first track, “Understand At All,” begins with a bang, as Baldi croons over the frenetic beat of melodious guitars and drums. A unique mixture of genres and musical styles are prevalent throughout the album, including energetic punk, droning distortion and Wavves-esque guitar solos. They’re neatly interwoven through tracks such as “Not Important” and “Heartbeat,” which see an experimental blend of guitar-crunching punk jams that would make Atlanta garage-punk outfit Black Lips proud. Simultaneously, “Should Have” could have been co-written by Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. Despite the blend of of genres, the unifying thread that holds Cloud Nothings’ self-titled album together is the raw yet increasingly confident lyrics, passionate and honest in their execution. As Baldi screeches over power-driven punk, with its traces reminiscent of late ’70s era Dead Kennedys minus the subversive political satire, the influences of beach pop, the inevitable trials of adolescence and young talent make their way to produce a solid, honest and accessible record.
I was fortunate enough to nab a few tickets for Girl Talk’s first of two shows here in Washington D.C. at the 9:30 Club. The highly anticipated set had the whole venue brewing with energy. As the lights dimmed, Mr. Gillis, aka Girl Talk, crawled to his dual-computer set up, and proceeded to hop on the table to a crowd of swaying hands and screaming vocal chords. After a few short words, the music started and jaws dropped. It seemed like he started with pieces of “Once Again,” the opening track off his album Night Ripper. At first I was like “YES,” but then I wondered, how good could a set of just pre-recorded mashups be? My questioning was shortly answered. It was so much more than just his album tracks. The set was filled with sing-a-longs, a mind-blowing back drop (as pictured), and more treats in the form of confetti and balloons than a kid can dream of. Every beat was accompanied by a custom light show, and the crowd continuously bounced for the full 55-minute set.
I’ve been waiting for this album for so long, and I hadn’t heard of this band until today. It’s the kind of album that, on first listen, you think to yourself, “how can something be so familiar if I’ve never heard it before?” Or maybe I’m just weird. (sidenote – when I first read about this band, I was really angry that someone had the nerve to pluralize the name of one of the greatest emo bands of the 90’s. but honestly, this is so much better. my apologies to any muscular bearded guys in flannels reading this)
This Friday night’s show at the 930 Club is jam-packed with five great acts filling the bill, including two of our favorite local groups, The Dance Party and Ra Ra Rasputin. Some of you may have came out to see these two play back-to-back at our Friday Night Live event on campus Halloween weekend and know they can even turn a 7Eleven into a dance floor. They will be joined by Wallpaper(experimental/funky dance), K-Flay(hip-hop maestress), and DC hip-hop/soul duo lowercaseletters.
Toilet Records’ suitably dirty bass/drum duo Sigmund Droid released their second album, Maximum Grind, in August of 2009. The album introduced a new dimension to the Sigmund Droid sound by featuring their friend David Tobias, guitarist of the late Apes & Androids. A friend of mine has been fortunate enough to get some practice space at Toilet Records’ studio in Brooklyn where his band (stay tuned…) has apparently been getting some love from another ex-Ape & Android aliased as Morgan Z. Once upon a time Morgan put out a solid remix of Datarock’s Princess, which wound up on their myspace page. Now he’s thrown down an incredible remix of Sigmund Droid’s I Don’t Want You To Go, full of epic bass and dance power I just can’t get enough of. Do yourself a favor and wrap your head with a big pair of bassey earmuffs for this guy: