So despite me spending the summer railing against most acts of the soda pop rock variety, Cloud Nothings’ album Turning On successfully fails to offend and thoroughly entertains.
I get the feeling these guys are to Wavves what Princeton is to those Vampire Weekend Ivy League bros. Regardless of trite tractates of meaningless correlations, Cloud Nothings is doing the rock thang right. The story goes that Dylan Baldi gave college the ol’ heave ho in exchange for a gig with Woods and almost makes a case for the virtues of dropping out and turning onto some great fuzzy sounds in the process.
“Can’t Stay Awake” brings about the ambitious motions of contemporary “surf king” balladry equipped with awesomeness. Rest assured fellow “trend humping” haters, Baldi manages to keep it indie real with lo-fi GBV kissed tracks like “Old Street,” “You are Opening.” But then he goes the whole 9 yards with the title track “Turning On” which sounds almost polished but then he shoves the shine back into warbled bedroom oblivion on the super savvy “Hey Cool Kid” which I’m sure is being played in an Urban Outfitters changing room somewhere right now. Sometimes the intentions clash with the delivery such as “Real Thing” which suffers from a little too much angular guitar. No doubt folks still into that Carlos D haircut will be bouncing about awkwardly while trying hard not to spill Stella on their Palm Canyon Hollister Co. skinny jeans. Still dig the lyrics that seem fitting for the song’s blowing cool attitude; “Talk too much but not enough, you gotta a real cool thing, a real cool thing yeah.”
What sells most of the album for me is Baldi’s laid back singing style. He even makes monotonous slower jams like “Water Turns Back” interesting with vocals under the influence of distortion treatments and complimenting guitar work reminiscent of the Velvet’s “I’m Set Free.” No blatant plagiarism at work, simply some good, honest rock n’ roll. Always nice to hear some solid garage pop amid countless contemporary fuzz bands with gross tendencies toward the tired pantomime of worn influence droppings. Baldi seems committed to the cause for sake of the music rather than color guard banner waving.
Also Cloud Nothing’s recently release of the Didn’t You 7” edges the group out into a more polished direction hinted at often on Turning On. “Didn’t You” suggests that the Baldi could take the band to a higher platform, even throws in a chorus of “ ohh ohh ohhs” for good measures of iconographic insurance. “Even If it Worked Out” is a catchy break-up number that keeps the guitars lightning fast and ringing like chimes of freedom. Turning On can be heard on CD via Bridgetown Records,
the LP is available through Speakertree and the Didn't You 7” can be found through Old Flame.