Much is being made of Steve Albini’s involvement in Cloud Nothings’ newest LP, though as it’s well-documented, his involvement usually amounts to setting up a few microphones and hitting ‘record’. A lot of talk, too, about Nigel Godrich’s newest release, mostly because it’s him and less because there’s music. Important as these individuals may be, never forget there are others whose input is just as vital. They’re, uh, the bands.
CLOUD NOTHINGS – Attack On Memory (Carpark Records): Dylan Baldi is quite the angry young man, the difference between him and most of his compatriot 20-year-old hard rock moaners being that even if he’s naïve enough to believe he’s got a good grasp on all young people’s inevitably bleak future, he’s too busy being pissed to be cynical. He’s formed a fitting and fledgling band to liven up this temperament rather than record solo lo-fi gruff in his parents’ basement. He’s hired hands-off ‘producer’ Steve Albini to be in the room to allow breathing room. And he’s channeled his pent-up rage into rollicking guitar riffs and simple—not simple-minded—non-profundities: “No one knows our plans for us / We won’t last long,” “I thought I would be more than this,” “No future, no past.” Difficult to determine just how their raw energy and uncompromising restlessness is attacking memory, but nonetheless their attack is felt and easily digestible. Which means they’re punks in the end. “I need time to stay useless,” Baldi’s already-weathering voice wails. Don’t we all. A MINUS
ULTRAISTA – Ultraísta (Temporary Residence): Everyone belatedly mentions percussionist Joey Waronker, much less his integral rhythms—the sole component giving this likely one-off a semblance of identity outside Nigel Godrich’s name. Note that young gun Laura Bettinson’s layered drone and Godrich’s straining synths revolve around whatever Waronker supplies; favorite example is the climactic “Smalltalk,” a stalling one-two one-two followed by vocals and keybs that, get this, might evoke emotion. So yak, yak, yak; we know this is Godrich’s ‘side-project’, we know his prior credentials inform this outfit, and if at the end of the day we’re honest we know it’s just too damn easy to invoke Radiohead or Eraser comparisons. Rhythm-centric, sure. Minimalist, okay. But God forbid a veteran producer having a sound. A MINUS