Mincing Words Like Garlic: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 42
Obligatory Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to, like, pick out what you like about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much.
Cloud Nothings - Learn My Life - Carpark Records - 2 songs - 7"
Cloud Nothings' 7"s have always been kinda spotty for me. I was very pleased upon listening to this one, however, that both songs on it are quite good! "Learn My Life" is a great acoustic indie rock/pop tune, with just Dylan Baldi on acoustic guitar. If you've missed it with Cloud Nothings more extravagantly produced full-lengths, Dylan is quite a good songwriter, singer, and guitarist, which is on full display here with everything else stripped away. I like the part where he sings falsetto also. Nice touch. The flip side, "Sacrifice (For Love)," is another lo-fi acoustic one, though this time with bass and two guitars. I'm not sure whether fellow CN members TJ Duke and Chris Brown play on it or it's just Dylan (I'm inclined to believe the latter, but feel free to write in and tell me how stupid I am if you think otherwise), either way it's another great melancholy pop tune. I'd love to hear more Cloud Nothings/Dylan Baldi recordings like this, with just Dylan, acoustic and simple. Highly recommended, and you get to take a nice trip out of state if you want one (see below)! 4.8/5
(This is a tour exclusive, so I hear. Fortunately for you, it's not too late to catch Cloud Nothings while they're still in America. Check their Facebook page for tour dates and maybe you can travel to Chicago or something and buy a copy of this there. Or maybe they'll have copies when they're back from Europe, but you never know.)
Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound - Carpark Records - 9 songs - LP, CD, cassette (allegedly), download
I gotta admit, based on the pre-release singles, I was a bit worried about how this album would turn out. And then it turned out that this album is actually pretty good! "Up To The Surface" starts with a piano, which for you Cloud Nothings fans will be instantly reminiscent of "No Future/No Past," the opening track off 2012's "Attack On Memory." Supposedly, for this album, they tried to strip away some of the "rough edges" or something like that. Sure enough, there's no screaming or distorted guitar on this track. After that, there's "Things Are Right With You," a great, catchy indie rock tune. "Internal World" was a song I didn't like when it was released as the second of three singles from the album, but within the context of the rest of the LP, it's pretty good. On "Darkened Rings," I was reminded of the instrumental track ("Separation") from "Attack On Memory," whatever that means to you. Closing out Side A might be my favorite track here (tied with "Things Are Right With You"), "Enter Entirely." It was released earlier as pre-release single 3/3 and was the only one that made me feel like this album would probably be good. The weird string bend thing they do during the chorus is pretty cool, too. Side B starts with single one of three, "Modern Act." I had my doubts about it when it first came out, but repeated listening has proved to me that it was quite a good choice for the first single of the album, as it's a very catchy pop tune. Also, Mr. California is in the music video, so I don't know what more you could want from it. There are some weird and interesting melodies going on in "Sight Unseen," and "Strange Year" might be the "heaviest" here (the dissonant "down" harmonies on the chorus are nice and creepy, too– though I will add that I think "Strange Year" is my least favorite on the album, tied with "Up To The Surface." That should mean nothing (cloud nothing) to you, though.). The record ends with "Realize My Fate," which finally brings out the chaos that fans of earlier tunes like "Wasted Days" and "Pattern Walks" were hoping for, though it does it at a much slower tempo than either of those two songs, which is an interesting change. Overall, a decent album. It's one of those ones that takes a good few listens to grow on you, and I don't think it's quite as good as "Here & Nowhere Else" or "Attack On Memory," but it's still quite worth checking out. Did Dylan's voice get deeper again or am I finally losing it for real? 4/5
Day Creeper - Central States - Superdreamer Records / Heel Turn Records - 10 songs - LP
This one's not such a recent release, but hey, I got a stack of stuff here and it's all gotta get reviewed sometime, so there ya go. This LP takes a little while to get going for me, but it does get there. Side A has some cool moments here and there, "Get Off My Wavelength," "Luxury Condominium," and "Ignore The Signs" especially, but Side B is more consistently something. Day Creeper play pretty straightforward catchy garage/indie rock with solid memories. I like that due to the super-tuff drumming style, some of these songs ("Makeshift Maker" stands out) have a rock strut to them even when they're more of a ballady type. An interesting choice indeed. I can't quite say that the songwriting holds up over a whole full-length, but the good parts are pretty darn good. I also have a soft spot for this group because something about their singer's vocal style reminds me of Doug Enkler. Not bad stuff. A thoroughly decent affair. 3.7/5
(superdreamerrecords.com or heelturnrecords.com, whichever floats your boat)
Junkhouse Bones - Shelf Life - self-released - 9 songs - Download
I wasn't sure what to make of this based on the artist name, but hey, it turns out that it doesn't suck. This is nine tracks of pretty decent alt/indie rock. There's something it really reminds me of and it's driving me absolutely crazy that I can't place it. The closest I can get for now is sort of a mix between Cloud Nothings and Dinosaur Jr. There's definitely a lot of '90s alt-rock influence here with some modern touches as well. The vocals are way louder and clearer in the mix than I'm used to with this type of thing, which I'm not quite sure what to make of. I know I have friends who would definitely be into this. Some of the tunes here were pretty good, dare I say. I'm interested to see how this project develops, assuming it will. 3.5/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email email@example.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.