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 breathtaking 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 — he’s been touring ever since, using every available break to write and record more.
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 sugary 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 gargantuan, it marked the first time our young hero wrote with and for his longtime touring band, drummer Jayson Gerycz, bassist TJ Duke and since departed guitarist Joe Boyer. Touring intensified, rock critics slobbered, and the ceiling was raised considerably.
Enter yet another first: the highly-anticipated follow-up. Here and Nowhere Else is the sound of Baldi further realizing his potential not just as a collaborative bandleader but a singer as well. The sometimes frightening interplay that galvanized its predecessor is refined here, Baldi’s cyclonic guitar parts and Gerycz’s seismic drumwork more tightly clenched and nuanced than they’ve ever been before. It’s an album every bit as ferocious as what we’ve recently come to expect — only smarter.