Monday, March 3, 2014

review: nothing- 'guilty of everything' (relapse)

Philadelphia-based band Nothing has quite the back story—frontman Dominic Palermo used to spend his time driving around in a car loaded with cocaine and guns while blasting My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ through the speakers. Following some time in prison and a four year period of soul searching he emerged with a new band called Nothing (he’d previously been in hardcore bands Horror Show and XO Skeleton) and this impressive debut for Relapse Records.

‘Guilty of Everything’ covers a pretty wide tonal palette—the lyrics and vibrant melodies ooze a hope that comes from a very dark place as well as redemption and regret while the music pummels and pounds with a layered, yet raw force that’s lacking in the music of most bands riding the 3rd wave of shoegaze. In fact shoegaze isn’t an entirely accurate label for Nothing—while listening to ‘Guilty of Everything’ I found it reminding me of a beefed-up version of ‘Low Level Owl’ by the Appleseed Cast. The music has an anthemic, celebratory quality that doesn’t come across in most music placed under the shoegaze umbrella. Even when the relentless wall of guitars cools to a breezy shimmer there’s a clarity and thickness that demands attention. For a new band treading such well-worn ground the band covers a diversity of style that suggests a lot of as-yet untapped potential. The no-nonsense production by Jeff Ziegler (who’s also produced Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs), which sounds like it could’ve been tracked live in a mere matter of hours, reinforces this suggestion.

Like any debut by any band worth it’s salt it’s not perfect, suggests more than it delivers and provides exciting hints at future directions that a band could take. In most ways this is preferable to a perfect debut—a band that arrives fully-formed into the world often has nowhere else to go. Nothing have staked a nice claim with ‘Guilty of Everything’—a band that favors loud, layered walls of guitars and loud/quiet dynamics who have firmly established a no-bullshit methodology where most bands mining a similar sound disappear into a world dripping with pretentious sonic noodling or resort to half-assed copycatting. This is a record that makes me excited to hear what they do next.

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