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on February 6, 2012
I'll start this review by being honest and this might speak for a few of you: PitchforkMedia led me to this album by bestowing it their "best new music" tag and their description of the songs and the addition of Steve Albini's engineering caught my interest. So I won't make any front about being there from Dylan Baldi's humble beginnings as a lo-fi bedroom artist since this record is poised to be Cloud Nothing's breakthrough and I can already see some fans getting smug about the new audiences this album will draw from its seemingly unanimous critical appraisal.

I started listening with no bias or previous expectations, though I plan on exploring Baldi's back catalog very soon because of my impression of his abilities as a songwriter. Let me make something clear. Attack is frontloaded by two of its most memorable songs, which isn't to necessarily say the rest don't compare. "No Future/No Past" is a haunting opener, capturing my attention from the first measure of the piano chords, developing into a song driven by mantra-like vocal lines and building into the cathartic release of Baldi's screams. It's evident that Albini's mix benefits the sound of this band, giving the special clarity the chimey guitars need from the commanding emotive quality of his voice. It's with this song that my interest is completely piqued. Next is "Wasted Days", nine minutes played with all the conviction of a hardcore band and also containing the album's most angst-ridden lyrical refrains. The bulk of the song is rhythmic interplay between guitar and drums and doesn't get boring for a second which should speak loudly for a band like Cloud Nothings who for the remainder of the album reveal themselves as a band mainly pulling from the strengths of guitar and vocal hooks. I've seen people rag on "Fall In", and while it breaks up the harsher mood of the first fifteen minutes, it also has a nice pop melody framed by the stop-start motions of the band's rhythm section.

As someone into noise-rock and classic indie from the 80s and the 90s this has a lot of appeal for me. Baldi knows when to rein in the guitar squalor just enough to highlight how catchy these songs are without that same catchiness ever being irritating or to the detriment to how much it legitimately rocks. "No Sentiment" is a good display of all these angles of the Cloud Nothings sound, and "Cut You" ends the album on an uplifting note, its heavy drumming underpinning the blissful vocal melody and little guitar lines sprinkled throughout that recall moments from the Pixies "Doolittle". Not all of Attack on Memory is going in my life changing music file, but there's enough energy and memorable songs found on this album to keep me playing it. Recommended.
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on March 18, 2012
Cloud Nothings's songwriter and at one time only member, Dylan Baldi has made the claim in interviews that his latest album, Attack on Memory, felt like such a departure from his earlier, lo-fi static-pop sound that he considered recording under an entirely new name. Dylan's right that Attack on Memory marks a shift in style for Cloud Nothings, but he's wrong to claim that this is a complete departure from his first two full length releases. A shadow of doubt and remorse hangs over the album, and while Attack on Memory's darker themes leads to a rearrangement in sonic textures, ultimately Dylan's ear for a catchy riff or a snaking guitar line makes it clear that Attack on Memory was written by the same artist who penned the bouncy "Understand at All."

The opening track, "No Future/No Past," attempts to strike a clear demarcation between Attack on Memory and Dylan's earlier four track bedroom recordings. The song, a slow marching dirge, builds from a whisper to a throat searing scream, and it helps form the atmosphere of the rest of the album. But despite this new approach, Dylan can't help but write some surprisingly catchy tunes. Sure, he's traded in much of his nasally delivery for a scream that seems to start and stop in his trachea, but underneath the self-torment lies a talented songwriter. In fact, a couple of the songs, such as "Fall In" and "Stay Useless," could have easily have slid into one of his earlier albums without causing much disruption.

Attack on Memory relies on two elements to truly differentiate itself from Cloud Nothings's first two full lengths: a full band and Steve Albini's production. The centerpiece of the entire album, the nearly nine-minute long "Wasted Days," could never have been pulled off as a bedroom recording. The song's energy depends on multiple guitar dynamics and clear shifts from one movement to the other. This fuller sound is only enhanced by Albini's steel hard production sound. Albini is famous for his hands off approach to producing, allowing the sound of his studio to do all the work for him. Like Bruce Lee, he relies on the "style of no style." And here much of the album feels as if it were recording in an ancient cave, the band surrounded by long forgotten glyphs. And what better environment for Dylan's intonation of easy self-disgust. At times the album recalls Albini's most famous production work, Nirvana's In Utero. And while Dylan doesn't have Cobain's gift for layers of irony and somersaulting wordplay, he takes advantage of Albini's skills to evoke elemental feelings of anger and distrust that can be found in the common 20-year-old American male.
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on January 25, 2012
Cloud Nothing's caught my attention with their lo-fi grunge-pop rock sound on songs like "understand at all" and "hey cool kid" and I had a feeling this band would one day soon make a truly special album. Don't get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoy their S/T release and the "Turning On" album, but I really, really like where they have gone with "Attack on Memory." It's a meshing of so many sounds I love, and though it's early in the year, I predict it will go down as one of my favorite albums of 2012. Every song is good and I have yet to pick my favorites, although the 9-minute track "wasted days" is truly epic. It makes me wish that one day I have the chance to see these guys live.

So if I was to introduce someone who I thought might dig this band, I'd probably start with this latest album. It's definitely the most accessible (and most well-produced) and I think it might prepare a person to give the earlier records more of a chance, which in their own right, are also very good.

-Andrew
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on January 9, 2013
I am so tired of the echo driven, airy, soft voice that has taken over indie rock the past few years. This album definitely rocks. As a fan of classic rock, early 90s grunge and early 2000s indie rock I definitely recommend this album. My favorite is the second track.
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on January 2, 2013
Cloud Nothings marry the fuzzy pop sensibility of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with the unapologetic aggression of a shark on bath salts. If you like Titus Andronicus, Male Bonding, Sonic Youth, and the like, you will surely to dig Attack on Memory. Tracks like Wasted Days showcase Dylan Baldi's stellar songwriting prowess, while on an aesthetic level the record remains powerfully raw and propulsive. Baldi delivers brutally honest lyrics like "I'm stuck in here and I'm tired of everywhere/I'm never gonna learn to be alone," and yet he portrays his profound frustration without coming across as whiny or generic. If you ever wished you could get rowdy to Elliott Smith, this might be the record for you. Ian Cohen from Pitchfork said it best: "Attack on Memory feels above all necessary, a corrective for indie rock making allowances for everything except music that actually rocks." I bought this on an impulse last year, and what a beautiful impulse it was: I have found myself listening to Attack on Memory nonstop for months. A brilliant fusion of art rock and punk rock, this album is well worth the five dollar price tag.
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on August 16, 2012
It's taken me nearly five months to get around to reviewing Cloud Nothings' Attack On Memory. After listening to it again last week it hit me; this is the little post punk masterpiece that could.

First time listening to this album back in the winter I knew there was something special about Dylan Baldi's Cleveland outfit, but I couldn't place my finger on it. Musically, this album comes out and goes straight for the throat. It's some of the strongest, intense, straight-from-the-gut playing you're likely to hear all year. Baldi sings like he's in his first primal scream therapy session. Spitting blood and pain on the microphone. I think that's what threw me off at first.

The scream. The yelp. The bark....

It almost seemed like a put-on for the sake of drama. But after months of going back and revisiting this little gem I'm convinced that there is no put-on going on here. Dylan Baldi treats his songs like therapy. He's exorcising his demons. Attack On Memory is nothing but pure, bloody catharsis.

No album released this year or maybe even the last couple years has the pure pain expunging that Cloud Nothings provides with the 1-2 punch of album openers `No Future, No Past' and `Wasted Days'. `No Future, No Past' begins with a quiet, reflective piano. It quickly jumps into an almost chant. An incantation. Bringing the demons to the surface and looking them straight into their blood red eyes. There's an ominous vibe with this song, then the shredded screams of Dylan Baldi take front and center. Steve Albini, who produced this album had the foresight to put those vocals front and center, same as he did nearly 20 years ago while producing a little indie record called In Utero. The song builds to a war cry "No future, No past!!", and ends before anyone gets hurt. Then `Wasted Days' comes in with a fury of an impending storm. All post punk spite and bile, "I know my life's not gonna change, and I'll live through all these wasted days". This song has a Mission of Burma vibe to it. Full of power, anger and the spirit of experimentation, this track slows down to a fuzzed out bass line, buzzing guitar loops and Baldi's echoing spit out sentiment. Nearly 9 minutes of falling into the looking glass. If you want epic, you've got epic in this excellent track.

You feel like you've already listened to an entire album or someone's therapy session after the first 14 minutes of this record. Fortunately from here on out we take a less cathartic path, but no less great. `Fall In' has an early early hardcore vibe with some Green Day harmonies thrown in to sweeten the pot. `Stay Useless' is Cloud Nothing in a pop-centric mood. When Baldi isn't shredding his vocals he does have a very youthful-sounding voice. Like a teenage Billie Jo Armstrong. `Stay Useless' shows that Cloud Nothings could take the pop-punk reigns from those Green Day fellas, if they wanted to. `No Sentiment' is a brash, middle finger of a track, with Baldi in full-on Cobain ear hemorrhaging mode. `Cut You' closes out this exhausting and masterful album.

It took months to figure it out, but I can say without a doubt that Attack On Memory is a soul-purging, post punk masterpiece.
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on January 25, 2012
I really stumbled onto hearing about the new album reading a Tweet from a friend this morning. I've already listened to it five times and I really like it. The first song is a bit slow starting but Edelstein is right--the second song springs right up and is completely epic. The first few times I listened to it I didn't realize it was almost nine minutes. I think that's a good thing.

Fall In and Stay Useless are incredible. I was kind of surprised to hear an instrumental on an eight-track album but Separation is good--but maybe just a touch too long. If it was a minute and a half it would be just right.

I like how the second half of the album is extra nihilistic. At first I thought No Sentiment was just a rant but after a few times I realized it's perfect track to kick start the last stretch. I really like the tempo change about two minutes in.

I think Our Plans is fine but it's not one of the stronger tracks. Cut You is a great way to end the album--and I like how nasty and funny it is.

Besides the fact that this feels shorter than I'd like, I disagree that this is better than Cloud Nothings. I was just listening to Forget You All The Time yesterday and man that song is so good.
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on July 1, 2012
I bought this record on a whim, having seen it on a stereogum.com list of Steve Albini's best as producer. I think it's fantastic. The sound comes in waves and hits like a jackhammer. The like-a-wave building of No Future/No Past and the extended jams, particularly in Wasted Days, are amazing. And at 33 minutes, Cloud Nothings leave you wanting more.
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on February 24, 2012
Fans of this band are probably going to cry when I say it, but this album kind of sounds like what emo should have been if it had stayed DC punk and not gotten shredded by whiny midwest goobers. It's not great, but it's very very good. There are a few clunkers but overall the album is solid. It has a sound not unlike Jawbreaker or Rites of Spring, but also informed by more recent indie and post-punk stuff. "Fall In" and "Stay Useless" are some of the best rock songs you're probably going to hear this year.

This album is not a classic, but you'd do far worse for $8. I think it's more likely that this is the first in a series of very good releases from Baldi and the Cloud Nothings, so get in early and you can self-righteously hate them next year when your little brother is jamming 'em.
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on August 18, 2012
This is an excellent, mature album that rocks hard and IMHO, combines the Pixies plus Radiohead with something novel to make an outstanding whole, greater than the parts and refreshing and fun and the lyrics are even wonderful. What's not to love???
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