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Turning On
Cloud Nothings Turning On
Released 22 October 2010
Producer Cloud Nothings
Label Wichita / Coop
Length 42:46
Genre Indie rock
Website myspace.com/cloudnothings

Imagine the vocals of Julian Casablancas over the guitar of Dave Davies and you’re some way to understanding the fuzzy sound that defines Cloud Nothings, the brain child of Cleveland’s Dylan Baldi. The sound is far from polished; the vocals tend to get lost in the mix and the rhythm is sloppy at times, basically it sounds like the output from your average garage band. It might not sound enticing but Baldi has a knack for writing catchy pop tunes that rise above the noise.

Turning On throws us straight into the world of Cloud Nothings with opening track 'Can’t Stay Awake', there’s no great fanfare or pretentious opening, a quick strum of the guitar and we’re off. This is a recurring pattern on the album, the songs are kept simplistic with straightforward riffs and simple but effective melodies and for the most part this works well. Baldi has a distinct ability to make the basic sound interesting. Take for instance the bass lines in 'You Are Opening' and title track 'Turning On', they’re crude and could probably be played by anyone with a passing interest in the instrument yet they are undeniably infectious. Equally infectious is 'Hey Cool Kid', an anthem for nerds ridiculing the elite popular crowd and the strongest track on the album. It brought to mind early Weezer, at least with its nerdish defiance.

Vocal wise, I’m unsure whether Baldi has a distinctly unique voice worth listening to; the lo-fi recording covers it up significantly. He does however seem to have a good knack for mimicry, doing a convincing Julian Casablancas impression in the outro to 'Strummin', a song that wouldn’t sound out of place on Casablancas’ Phrazes For The Young. For an extremely accurate take on Paul Banks of Interpol check out 'My Little Raygun'. Both songs suggest that Baldi is still finding himself musically but at least he’s aiming in the right direction.

At the risk of missing the whole point of Cloud Nothings, I really wasn’t a fan of the lo-fi recording. I like a raw sound for rock music but some of these pop tunes deserve the Phil Spector treatment (not the one that landed him in jail, mind you). It would be nice to see where this album could have gone with a more professional sound. This is not a deal breaker; the standard of song writing is quite strong for a debut album and Baldi himself has stated that he intends to ditch his lo-fi sound for his next album, one that I look forward to hearing.

- Brian Kinsella