Monday, January 27, 2014

Rock and Roll Still in Need of Saving, Cloud Nothings Debut New Song

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 2:26 PM


No one who watched the Grammys last night could have woken up this morning feeling very good about the current state of rock and roll. The award for Best Rock Album went to Led Zeppelin for some stupid live recording of a show from 2007, and Best Alternative Album (oh god) went to Vampire Weekend, who were probably embarrassed to have even been nominated—but that shit wasn’t even televised. Imagine Dragons, who you’ve probably never bothered to listen to, performed with Kendrick Lamar and may as well have been hired actors or… Coldplay. Ringo did some insanely awful song, then he joined Paul for some other insanely awful song, and we were supposed to act like it was some big fucking deal even though it was just really embarrassing. Metallica played “One” with accompaniment from Chinese pianist Lang Lang, and it was notable only because it taught us that James Hetfield has recently become even worse at singing, now relying even more heavily on cartoonish voices and silly growls. There was that whole thing at the end of the show, too, when Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and Lindsey Buckingham formed the most buffoonish supergroup ever (sorry, Linds) and then got cut off when it became clear nothing of any note was going to happen during their performance. It was so sad, the whole thing.

But then this morning there was a hint of promise! We learned of a new song by Cloud Nothings, whose last record, Attack on Memory, is one of the more respected rock albums in recent years, at least on the indie side of things. I always liked it ok, but I also grew bothered by what seemed like a forced raspiness in singer Dylan Baldi’s voice. The follow-up, Here and Nowhere Else, is out on 4/1, and the first single, “I’m Not Part of Me,” premiered on Sirius XMU this morning. It’s good: propulsive, guitar-driven and exactly as anthemic as you’d hope, with almost none of that annoying throatiness that drove me so crazy. The sound is also a little different this time out. Albini produced Attack on Memory, and his fingerprints were all over it, but now there’s something a bit more polished to the proceedings. It’s tasteful, though—more reminiscent of 70s power pop than whatever Josh Homme and those other dudes do. The “I’m not telling you all I’m going through” refrain induces some eye-rolling at first—it’s a childish, manipulative thing to say, obviously—but it also creates a context in which something great could happen. Whether it’s the tension that arises from maintaining restraint or the catharsis that comes from spilling it, well, it’ll be something. It may not be enough to undo all that was on display last night, but it will be a start. Listen:

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