I'm circling back around this week to touch on a couple of releases from this year that I already managed to miss at the time. First up is Cleveland four-piece Cloud Nothings' third album Attack On Memory. I don't cover much straight up rock music on the blog because not much of it captures my attention - occasionally something does however and this is just such a case.
The cover of Attack On Memory depicts a black and white out of focus lighthouse. Cloud Nothings make mildly scuzzy music, the sound of a lo-fi rock band slipping down the back of a radiator and taking a bit of grunge with them before rolling into a furry bit of punk. That cover fits perfectly - slightly out of time, blurred and messy, yet beautiful and still trying to point the way. And that raw sound just makes this band all the more exciting, the lack of polish shining through brightly on Steve Albini's lassé faire production.
Opening with a melodic piano on 'No Future/No Past' is a good example of one of the two apparent halves of Cloud Nothings' new darker sound - less quiet-loud-quiet, more just quiet-quiet-quiet-loud-loud-louder as the song slowly stumbles towards an aggressively climatic staggering punch-out, drummer Jayson Gercyz's kicks punctuating vocalist Dylan Baldi's wails.
It's a fantastic start and as if to prove a point they go and do it again, one more time with feeling. 'Wasted Days' starts as a freewheeling wrangle, arms-a-windmilling, looking for a fight before entering a taught, paranoid instrumental middle section only to come out fighting once more, Baldi hurling dissatisfied barbs that result in a screamed onslaught: "I thought, I would, be more, than this".
Just when it feels like there is only one way to go Cloud Nothings reel things back in, showing a lighter side. Both 'Fall In' and 'Stay Useless' feel, musically speaking, like hopelessly loveable romantics - the latter's guitars, drums and bass all locking into melodic interplay before an unsympathetically unrefined chorus in tribute to apathy.
The second half of the album can't quite maintain such a pace, but few albums could. 'Our Plans' rumbles away, a disintegrating band playing away, gradually getting noisier and less in control like a musical take on Chinese whispers. Attack On Memory closes with its musically most straight forward song, needy punk longing ending things on a lyrically confessional note of masochism and love.
34 minutes and you are done, but Attack On Memory is a wonderful record that shows subtlety, aggression and creativity.