Release Date: Jun 29, 2015
Record label: Ghost Ramp
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Since the births of their respective bands, Nathan Williams and Dylan Baldi have made tremendous leaps in their musical craftsmanship en route to establishing themselves as preeminent forces in indie rock. So when the pair announced that they would be joining together to create a Wavves and Cloud Nothings collaborative record more than a year ago, the possibility for something truly great emerged.
After teasing their collaboration for several months, Wavves' Nathan Williams and Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi decided to drop No Life for Me with little fanfare. Yet its seemingly tossed off creative birth (all nine tracks came together over two ten-day recording sessions at Williams' house) belies the depth of the material. At first blush, the collab seems like an odd match; Williams' production work with his brother Joel as beatmakers Sweet Valley has made increasing inroads into Wavves recorded material, whereas Baldi has embraced an anti-production aesthetic for Cloud Nothings.
Meet Nathan Williams and Dylan Baldi, the scraggly yin and yang of a very particular subset of pop punk. Williams is a consummate Southern Californian and the walking embodiment of a contact high. More to the point, he’s also the singer-songwriter behind Wavves, a hugely successful slacker-punk project that’s been credited with breathing new life into a tired genre — even if that breath contains a trace amount of THC.
The last few years before this new decade kicked in were a time of exciting and creative confusion. Capitalizing on self-guided drive suddenly became the more beneficial strategy to get your music across, a welcome opportunity provided by the burgeoning rise of boutique indie blogs, who actually held the power to change the life of a bedroom recorder in a matter of hours. Both Nathan Williams and Dylan Baldi benefitted from this trend by writing scuzzy, lo-fi albums that were jam-packed with satisfying pop hooks.
A spontaneous collaboration on a Monday morning is just what the doctor ordered. More so if it's from Cloud Nothings' frontman, Dylan Baldi, and Wavves frontman, Nathan Williams. Each bring something familiar to the table (in terms of musical mindset, songwriting and instrumentation) but when you combine both, there's something there a bit fresher and different.
On the surface, the quasi-surprise teaming of Cloud Nothings and Wavves seems like the indie-punk version of the classic Loner Weirdo and Crowd-Pleasing Hitmaker archetype pair — a fixture of great pop partnership since at least Lennon and McCartney, right up to Kanye and Jigga. The distance between respective frontmen Dylan Baldi and Nathan Williams isn’t really that sizable, though: The memory-attacker started his career with a couple LPs worth of sweetly sentimental lo-fi power-pop, while the King of the Beach has become neurotic enough to name his latest album (and its nervy title-track centerpiece) Afraid of Heights. On the sneak-released collaborative mini No Life for Me, the pair find easy common ground in chiming garage-punk psychoanalysis.
It's an algorithmic dream date: Google "Cloud Nothings" or "Wavves" and in each case the other band is one of the top entries in the "people also search" field. The overlap is inevitable: two critically acclaimed indie rock bands that actually rock, ones that qualify as pop and punk but somehow not pop-punk. Yet, Wavves X Cloud Nothings represents a sudden intersection after the two artists have spent the past five years aiming in opposite directions.
Wavves’ Nathan Williams and Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi have so closely treaded the same path that it’s a wonder they never tripped over each other along the way. Each began their band as a one-man project, writing prickly, lo-fi garage-pop songs about being bored and disaffected. As they scaled those projects into full bands, each increasingly channeled the snarled angst of ’90s alterna-punk, with neither disguising their debt to Nirvana.
Wavves: beach-and party-loving L.A. dude Nathan Williams, stoner extraordinaire. Cloud Nothings: nervy Cleveland nihilist Dylan Baldi, lo-fi noise-rock purveyor.. Together, the odd couple have made an album - dropped by surprise last week on Baldi's imprint, Ghost Ramp - full of tension and hooks ….