Review of Turning On Album by Cloud Nothings

While there will always be the Luddite preconception that music should follow the art form of progression, and therefore be about creating something audacious and otherworldly, its always healthy to go back to basics every once in a while. That's why this year has seen an avalanche of artists from both sides of the Atlantic whose mindset shares a similar viewpoint with the likes of Best Coast, Wavves, Spectrals and Dum Dum Girls all making steady inroads thanks to a combination of great records and formidable live performances.

The latest addition to that impressive list of low budget, lo-fi recording operators is nineteen-year-old Dylan Baldi, aka the creative force behind Cloud Nothings. While the live show involves a traditional four-piece band, the majority of these recordings actually took place as a solo project in Baldi's Cleveland home base, and while his obvious love of US college rock and mid-1980s UK underground guitar bands shines through, there's a wave of excitement going on throughout 'Turning On''s thirteen pieces that no amount of technical muso expertise could dream of replicating.

Essentially a compilation bringing together Baldi and Cloud Nothings earliest recordings, most of these songs having previously appeared on numerous cassette-only and limited edition seven-inch releases. 'Turning On' could be described as a celebration of adolescence in the same as Nathan Williams first Wavves long player epitomised the despair of boredom as a daytime occupation. Opener 'Can't Stay Awake' mixes the fervour of an infant Weezer with the good time ramshackle stylings of The Feelies, while the four chords, foot to the floor buzzpop of 'Old Street' and 'My Little Raygun' are probably what the Buzzcocks would have sounded like had they formed in 21st Century Ohio rather than 1970s Manchester.

Elsewhere, Baldi's admiration for all things lo-fi rises to the fore, particularly on the record's title track and probably his best-known song to date. Handclaps, "bah bah bah"'s punctuating the chorus and even the odd whistle a la 'Let's Go Surfing' pop up at random intervals throughout the record, with 'Real Thing' echoing Swell Maps chaotic splendour and 'Hey Cool Kid' giving both The Lilys and Appleseed Cast a run for their money in the oh-so-laidback stakes.

Although 'Turning On' is only meant to be a taster for Cloud Nothings self-titled debut album proper, due out in January of next year, it's still an outstanding representation and more than worthwhile document of the band's career to date, with the prospects looking excitingly rosy for the future.

Dom Gourlay

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