Cloud Nothings was founded in a Cleveland basement, the one-man recording project of Dylan Baldi, an unassuming, then 18-year-old student of song with a remarkable ear for melody. Prolific from the start, Baldi’s early work was rough but immediate: crudely recorded, spring-loaded spasms of Buzzcocks-informed pop that quickly found an online following among the lo-fi-inclined. When an opportunity presented itself to open a small show in Brooklyn, Baldi abandoned a still-in-progress final project to be there. The gamble paid off.
In 2010, Carpark unveiled Turning On, a retrospective introduction that combined early 7″ singles and the full-length debut (a limited release on cassette and vinyl) from which it took its name. The following year, Cloud Nothings made its proper Carpark debut with a thrilling self-titled LP that found Baldi in a studio for the first time, shedding the many layers of hiss and distortion that had once obscured (or enhanced) his every hook. What followed was an unexpected breakthrough, 2012’s Attack on Memory, an album that very loudly (with the help of producer Steve Albini) announced the arrival of Cloud Nothings as the sound of more than just Baldi: Caustic and cathartic, it marked the first time Baldi wrote with and for his longtime touring band, drummer Jayson Gerycz, bassist TJ Duke and since departed guitarist Joe Boyer. While its rightly acclaimed and hastily recorded follow-up, 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else refined and expanded upon the volcanic interplay that galvanized its predecessor, it also found Baldi realizing his potential as a singer and the leader of an undeniably great rock band.
Smart, nuanced, and immensely listenable, this is guitar-driven pop as it should be—conceived by a songwriter who continues to sound like one of the finest of his generation.
It is not enough to say that The Hotelier have grown older, or wiser, or more of anything. We can trace a progression, if we like, from the explosive empowerment of It Never Goes Out to the ashen disillusionment of Home, Like Noplace Is There. We can follow an awakening of youth in suburbia attempting to learn what is right, and what is ours, and what is possible and impossible, and maybe we can't save each other like we thought we once could. We're awake and we're tired and we want love in our lives again. And so we find ourselves now in Goodness, in the woods outside of the suburbs, trying to re-learn that love.
But we seek a space outside time. Once in a while we can feel it, like a clearing. Where our histories and our rhetorics blend into languages spoken and unspoken. Where the greatest awe comes upon us for the overlooked, the simple, the incomperhensible. Where things glitch as they solidify, repeat as they evolve, scream as they whisper. Where always and forever above us, in all of its natural, unnatural, supernatural love, shines the moon. Goodness is not this place -- goodness is nowhere -- but we are following it to where we have to be.
After all we've gone through, how young are we? What is age softening in us, what is it hardening in us? Are we getting better? Worse? How could we ever know, when capital forces us onward away from ourselves? Will the woods consume the suburbs; will the suburbs consume the woods? In the gaps between these monumental questions, in the tiniest details, in the infinitude of cycles outside of time, there is Goodness. We begin there.
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