Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

CLOUD NOTHINGS – THE ANNADALE

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Music, Ramblings

CLOUD NOTHINGS – THE ANNADALE

FEB 6, 2013

Cloud Nothings is the brainchild of Ohio-based Dylan Baldi, who wrote and recorded most of the bands material from his bedroom, releasing two studio albums in 2011. In early 2012, Cloud Nothings released Attack On Memory, delivering a nascent mix of sneering, shoe-gazey grunge, which was embraced by indie taste-making website Pitchfork as one of the best albums of 2012 – a bold declaration considering the album was released January 23rd, barely one month into the year.

It was at this point that the first single, ‘Fall In’ began receiving heavy rotation on local Sydney station Fbi, and I began to take notice of them. Having had Attack On Memory on heavy rotation during 2012, when Cloud Nothings announced a gig at Sydney’s iconic Annandale Hotel (a mere month before the devastating announcement that it was going into receivership), I was pretty excited to snap up some tickets and see if they could live up to hype.

I arrived early to the gig to see support act Violent Soho, a well-known Brisbane band associated with the Aussie ‘grunge-rock revival’ that happens every few years, and as such were a fitting support act for Cloud Nothings. Being unfamiliar with all but a few of their songs, I stood at the edge of the door and watched them play a tight set, including alt-radio hits like ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’. Their sound is similar to The Pixies, with heavy, gritty guitar & bass rhythm sections punctuated by simple, melodic guitar riffs and lead singer Luke Boerdam’s outraged squeals and emphatic yells.

Cloud Nothings weren’t due to start until 10.45pm, but I figured the floor would fill quickly and I wanted to get a decent spot, so I dragged my friend into the Annandale’s cramped main room and we took our usual spot behind the sound desk. We stand here for two reasons: Firstly, because you are much less likely to get body-slammed or have beer spilt on you, due to the unspoken rule of pub rock which is ‘don’t f**k with the engineer or the desk if you want to enjoy the show’. Secondly, the sound is usually better, especially at places like the Annandale where the room acoustics are patchy at best (and muddy at standard).

My spidey senses must have tingled at the right time, because about 5 minutes later a guitar tech jumped on the dimly lit stage and started testing a guitar – and then the lights went up and we realised it wasn’t a guitar tech, but frontman Dylan Baldi himself. I once read a quote that said “if people walk in the room and can’t tell immediately that you’re with the band, then you’re poorly dressed”. Well, grunge was never really known for it’s flashy threads, and Baldi must’ve been embracing that ethos, because it was fairly low-key until he said ‘Hi, we’re Cloud Nothings’. Suddenly the room was filled with applause and whoops, and the stampede sound of the rest of the crowd cascading in from the back bar as they realised the band was starting.

Avoiding the typical introductory banter, the band immediately launched intoFall In’, and the crowd immediately went off. Just about everyone in the room knew what they were in for – a few people up the back seemed like disinterested onlookers, but most here started dancing, jumping and flailing around within the first few bars. By the time the first chorus kicked in, a good old-fashioned 90’s moshpit was forming up the front, and it felt good to be back at the Annandale, seeing a band living up to their hype, bashing out some bloody catchy songs.

Next up was ‘Separation’, a noisy, garage-y instrumental song which sounds like an early Strokes demo, which launched straight into ‘Cut You’. The Beatle-esque melody & simplicity of of the song seemed to get to those who weren’t already dancing, as the room became a sea of people bopping in sync by the chorus. While the song itself is quite snarky and snarling, with lyrics like “Can he be as mean as me? / Can he cut you in your sleep?”, Baldi comes off as meek and inoffensive. While Cloud Nothings is billed as a band, it still feels like Baldi’s project; the sense is that he is tasked with delivering the songs, and the band is merely there to back him up.

Cloud Nothings’ live show has this chaotic, slapped-together sense that on one level, makes it feel like the band has been playing together all of 2 weeks. This is compounded by Baldi’s amateurish scream-tone and simple lyrics that sound like someone who has idolised Kurt Cobain having a crack at songwriting after being in a Nirvana covers band. But this is tilted on its side by the amazing choruses, catchy hooks and the surprising beauty of Baldi’s melodic singing voice when he’s not going for those Cobain-esque gravelly howls. The effect of all of this should be jarring, but it’s strangely not – for me personally, while some aspects come off as slightly inauthentic, the songwriting at its core is just too good to ignore – and after the first few songs I was hooked. Instead of judging, I was jumping along to the beat too.

Not one for banter or build-up between songs, the band launched straight into ‘Stay Useless,’ the albums’ second single. During the intro, the drums were so perfect in timing and intensity,

the drummer had the precision of a programmed drum track – something you don’t get the

sense of on the album. I was impressed by how tight the band has become in the year since its release. At this point, everyone was a fan, and you could hear the crowd singing along with every word. The song itself is a slacker anthem to rival any grunge-era anthem, with its repeating chorus of “I need time to stop moving / I need time to stay useless” awkwardly set to pop-flavoured chords and upbeat drums. This scene was repeated again later in fan-favourite ‘Our Plans,’ a song with similar structure and sentiment; the somewhat sneering refrain of “No one knows our plans for us / We won’t last long”, which Baldi delivers in an almost apologetic way, seems to simultaneously imply that Cloud Nothings may never make an album like this ever again – or perhaps as a quasi-apology in case the band implode, as so many of their own musical heroes did.

The band is incredibly tight, no doubt the result of spending most of 2012 touring the new album; the chaotic exterior belies how together these guys really are. Baldi is at once both amateurish and practiced; at once both lost on stage and totally in control of his every move, every note, and every buildup and release inherent in each verse-chorus-verse chorus-solo-chorus structured song. They aren’t the most innovative musicians on the planet – they’re walking a well-trodden road, but they’re doing it so damn well the audience doesn’t even care.

They ended up playing Attack On Memory in its entirety, and it was just perfect to see this album in a setting like this. I went home with my ears-ringing, feeling strangely invigorated – something I haven’t felt after a show in a long time. It was like seeing one of my favourite bands, but coupled with this excitement of a ‘first-time’… I went home feeling like I’d seen something important. And in this day and age, that’s a rare thing.

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Fantastic infographic created by Jessica Hichesee the full image at http://shouldiworkforfree.com

Working can be fun, frivolous, frustrating… all sorts of F-words come to mind when contemplating “work” and what it means to me; but “free” is not usually one of them.

As an aspiring blogger, i’ve worked both low-paid and no-paid jobs… hell, mainly no-paid jobs. So, here’s my thoughts on working for free: frankly, I don’t recommend it. Unless you are doing it entirely for yourself, it only ends in tears – well, in my experience anyway.

If you’re studying, starting a new business, have little or no experience, changing careers, young, old, or just aren’t an assertive person, odds are you’re in danger of falling into this unpaid work trap at some point. And since I fall into most of the aforementioned categories, I found myself facing the unpaid work dilemma recently.

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Not a Gaming Blog

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Ramblings

So, despite all appearances, this isn’t actually a gaming blog.

It’s just that every now and then I get a little obsessed with certain activities and tend to write more about those things rather than other things. And right now gaming seems to be where it’s at in the list of “Things I Can Be Bothered Writing Coherent Sentences About”.

xLJx

I featured a post on the Indie game Slender yesterday. And my first death in the game occured in a bathroom. Which brings me to the topic of today’s post, Why I Fucking Hate Bathrooms.

         Showers have that effect on me too.

Ever since Janet Leigh’s infamous shower scene in Psycho, the portrayal of bathrooms in popular culture can be split into two distinct categories: either the sparkling clean, white-tiled pristine world shown in all those Domestos ads, or as a blood-splattered portal of terror.

I’m guessing it stems from the fact that bathrooms are associated with being naked, and thus at our most vulnerable – having your pants around your ankles, stuck there defenseless as you void your bowels and generally fiddle with your nether regions. But I began to ponder why it is that the bathroom of all places has become such a potent image in poopular culture (typo and it stays!) when it comes to fear-inducing scenarios.
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I watched a great documentary last night about a somewhat neglected page in the history of gaming: the text-based adventure game.

Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary is a fantastic introduction to ye olde days of text-based adventure games (or “interactive fiction“) for those unfamiliar with it. Aside from being a great insight into the world of early PC gaming, it’s also a fascinating look at the people who pioneered it.

You can watch it (for free!) on youtube, complete with an intro by Jason Scott (my digital hoarder historian hero) at a Google Tech Talk. The doco itself starts around 07.30:

Get Lamp brought up some interesting points. (more…)

Music Poll

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Ramblings