WBEZ | Attack on Memory http://www.wbez.org/tags/attack-memory Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Album reviews: Sleigh Bells and Cloud Nothings http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-21/album-reviews-sleigh-bells-and-cloud-nothings-96595 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-22/sleigh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wanna push this blogger’s buttons? A surefire winner always is the mix of indelible melodies with chaotic guitar noise, whatever the context and other elements at work. <a href="http://audio.soundopinions.org/streams/2010/06/sleighbellsreview.mp3">But while many critics were hailing <em>Treats</em></a>, the 2010, M.I.A.-endorsed debut by the Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells, as a masterpiece in exactly that mould, to these ears, the major buzz drowned out the minor charms of the much-ballyhooed collaboration between songwriter and producer Derek Miller (ex-Poison the Well) and wispy vocalist Alexis Krauss (formerly of Rubyblue). And album number two is even more of disappointment.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-21/sleigh bells.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 300px;" title=""></p><p>The duo may aim to craft killer pop hooks, the better to offset Miller’s over-the-top dense and harsh wall-of-noise backings and generic electro-beats, but the melodies never grab you, as much because Krauss’s chirpy little-girl cooing annoys more than it seduces, as well as the fact that the melodies just aren’t very memorable or all that melodic. For that matter, Miller’s grooves and guitar-shredding are nothing special, either, while the lyrics—lots of talk of winning, losing and dying slapped on ironic (one assumes) hair-metal song titles such as “Born to Lose,” “Never Say Die,” and “Road to Hell”—are just plain inane.</p><p>“Push it, push it!” Krauss wails in “True Shred Guitar.” Yeah, well, if Sleigh Bells had pushed a little harder, and favored Slayer’s brand o’ shredding over Poison’s, maybe this band would not have been such a hollow hype.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-21/cloud nothings.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 300px;" title=""></p><p>Infinitely more successful in the sweet/sour, melody/noise sweepstakes and essentially inhabiting a whole different universe is Cleveland songwriter Dylan Baldi, whose Cloud Nothings have expanded from a one-man lo-fi bedroom project to a full-on four-piece band on <em>Attack on Memory, </em>its second proper album, recorded with all of his famous live-in-the-room verisimilitude and in-your-face wallop by Chicago’s Steve Albini.</p><p>Many and varied are the reference points invoked by the band’s fans, from old-school emo (Fugazi) to the more melodic mid-period Midwestern stuff (Get Up Kids), ’80s indie rock (Hüsker Dü) to ’90s alt royalty (Nirvana circa <em>In Utero</em>), vintage shoegaze (Ride) to modern art-punk conceptualists (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-07-05/album-review-fcked-%E2%80%98david-comes-life%E2%80%99-matador-88566">F*cked up</a>, with whom Cloud Nothings have toured). Debate the accuracy of any or all comparisons and how those jibe with the <em>carpe diem</em> lyrics and ahistoric album title if you will, but they matter not a whit, as this is no nostalgia trip. So potent are the juxtapositions of explosions of noise guitar and deceptively lulling interludes, million-dollar riffs and amelodic insanity, screams of desperation and rousing, sing-along choruses in unforgettable tunes such as “Our Plans,” “No Future/No Past,” “Fall In” and even the instrumental “Separation” that Cloud Nothings are another, very welcome contender for the only band that matters, and their latest indisputably is the hardest-hitting disc yet released in 2012.</p><p><strong>Sleigh Bells, “Reign of Terror” (Mom + Pop); rating on the four-star scale: 1 star.</strong></p><p><strong>Cloud Nothings, “Attack on Memory” (Carpark); rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p></p> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-02-21/album-reviews-sleigh-bells-and-cloud-nothings-96595