Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound

by Jim Cunnar Rating:9 Release Date:2017-01-20

It’s funny how the advancement of technology has allowed every Tom, Dick and Harry to get their rock and roll fantasy on.  This DIY movement has surely created some awful music that thankfully doesn’t leave most aspiring musicians' bedrooms.  That being said, the opportunity to record in the friendly confines of one’s home has brought us some brilliant musicians that otherwise may not have graced us with their tasty riffs.  2016 saw Car Seat Headrest explode with their spectacular lo-fi gem Teens of Denial.  2017 starts us off with Dylan Baldi’s Cloud Nothings raising the bar on DIY indie rock, blowing our socks off with the head spinning brilliance of Life Without Sound.

Originally signed to Carpark Records as a one-man band in 2010 after recording songs in his parents' basement, Life Without Sound  is Baldi’s fifth on the label, and is by far his most polished and mature work to date.  Only in his mid 20s, Baldi’s song writing is hitting it’s peak, and it’s easy to see why.  He has had the privilege of receiving high praise from the beginning, receiving tutelage from some of the greats (he recorded his second album Attack On Memory with Steve Albini) and using that knowledge on each subsequent recording.

At nine songs which clock in at a hair under 38 minutes, Life Without Sound channels everything from Bob Mould to Superchunk to Guided By Voices.  For as guitar heavy as his sound is, opener “Up To The Surface” begins with a piano riff, which somehow seems appropriate as the song opens up 40 seconds in and doesn’t stop.  Follow-up “Things Are Right With You” features Baldi and new guitarist Chris Brown, whose dueling guitars shower the listener in glorious scuzzy distortion.  Throughout, drummer Jayson Gerycz blasts away on his tom-tom and hi-hat like a man possessed. 

Highlights of the album are single “Modern Act”, which jangles as good as Ride’s “Twisterella”, and “Internal World”, which will be one of the best songs of 2017.  Prior recordings have had Baldi’s vocals buried behind walls of guitar, but on Life Without Sound , Baldi voice is up front with his guitars, most so on “Internal World”.  Singing “I’m not the one who’s always right” over and over makes us want to find whoever the song is written for and thank them for being a know-it-all.

Penultimate instrumental “Strange Year” and closer “Realize My Fate” put aside the power-pop formula for more overclocked distortion, with Baldi defiantly (or triumphantly) growling “I believe in something bigger, but what I can’t articulate” over Gerycz’s thunderous bass drum and his own dueling power chords with Brown.  The lyric is symbolic of the album it closes. Life Without Sound is glorious, full of all kinds of sounds which Baldi has spent years crafting.  Despite his youth, Baldi has been doing this closing in on 10 years.  The maturity of this album is obvious, and shows a musician who is truly ready for the next big stage.

Welcome to adulthood Dylan. We are excited to see where your journey takes you.

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