I’ve decided to couple the new albums by The Men and Cloud Nothings together for two reasons – the first reason is because both are pleasingly (at least to my ears) rough and ready around the edges. The production is noisy and unpolished and both bands have opted to record most of the instruments live, which they both evidently thrive at. I wasn’t a fan of the ridiculously over produced rock music of the 1990s so it’s nice to hear typical rock bands in the 2010’s shying away from this. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times too – live recording is a quicker approach to recording and such methods have more than likely got something to do with the completely broke nature of modern music.
Seriously, why anyone would pursue a career in the arts of any kind is beyond me. Actually, I think we’ve got past the stage where folks even consider such lofty ambitions. They’ve already been well and truly put off the idea that there is a possibility of being remunerated to any respectable degree in the creative sector. Those days are long gone. We’re all part-time rockers now. Anyway, I digress.
The second reason why I’ve bunched these band’s albums together is that although their 2014 musical offerings rock (there’s no denying this), I feel that both are lacking one crucial thing – personality. Yeah, it’s disappointing for me too. I’m just not getting much of an idea what these guys are about, apart from the cool way they hack away at their instruments. I can’t say these albums will get much in the way of repeat custom.
‘Tomorrow’s Hits‘ is The Men’s fifth album since 2010 – not only is this an impressive work rate but they also like to change musical styles on each album. This band clearly like to move fast. The album leaps into life with the very Crazy Horse-esque ‘Dark Waltz‘. It’s raucous, driving that more than likely sounds excellent in a car. The Brooklyn band’s punky attitude injects a real fire into some potentially very tired song styles. The album comes across sounding a lot like My Morning Jacket‘s excellent first album ‘It Still Moves‘ (albeit a little less stoned). There’s some great grooves across these 8 songs including ‘Sleepless‘, which has a touch of ‘Words (Between The Lines of Age)‘ by Neil Young about it. I think you can tell what I’m getting at. I’m just not sure what these guys are really about apart from being great impersonators. Maybe that’s too harsh a judgement but without some more meaningful lyrics The Men are stuck being a tad faceless.
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Onto the new Cloud Nothings album ‘Here And Nowhere Else‘. Like Tomorrow’s Hits, this album also moves at a refreshingly fast pace through its 8 songs. It’s the Ohio band’s fourth album and is another vicious collection of blink-and-you-miss-it punk-pop songs. The trio’s intense energy is well captured on this album and they come across like The Thermals fronted by an angry Julian Casablancas. Sadly, again like Tomorrow’s Hits there’s also not much to the lyrics of Cloud Nothings, who my pal Fabs thinks sound like Jimmy Eat World. At least we can be thankful that the lack of dollar in the music industry has stopped any band sounding as overproduced as those dudes. Like of those 90s bands, Cloud Nothings come across quite plain lyrically and there’s not much going on to really get your teeth into. ‘Psychic Trauma‘ is case in point: ‘I can’t believe what you’re telling me is true/ my mind is always wasted listening to you‘ – what is this? Gimme something to believe in guys. Here And Nowhere Else’s highlight is the final song (and sensibly the single) ‘I’m Not Part Of Me‘. It’s very well written – check it out below.
So I guess that’s it. 2 enjoyable yet forgettable 2014 rock albums. Judging by the workrate of both these bands, we won’t be left hanging round for the follow ups to these albums for ages. Let’s see what happens next…