The ghosts of our past can be ignored, viewed through rose-colored lenses, or confronted head on. Philadelphia based Nothing were founded by Dominic Palermo in 2011 shortly after he spent time in lock up on a few charges relating to a fight. Singer for a hardcore band (Horror Show), jail, a few years away from music – not the ideal career path for a musician trying to break on through (to the other side). Strangely enough, turning an introspective eye to the past has lent Palermo’s music a depth that can only come about by tackling the issues head on. Fortunately for us, we are left with what should be a contender for one of the finest albums of 2014.
The sound of the record nods towards the late 80’s / early 90’s shoegaze scene of the UK. That general description can encompass a whole slew of bands and sounds, so I’ll narrow it down to Slowdive’s mid period. Not a direct homage or aping of that sound though – there is a 90’s Alternative Rock (remember that?) vibe on almost all the songs. View that as a positive as well, I’m not talking about the carbon copy Grunge bands that started showing up on MTV in the mid 90’s – I’m talking about early records by The Smashing Pumpkins, late period Hum, and Dig. All great bands, and Nothing takes those influences and spits them out into a melodic, enticing brew. Highlights are tracks 1 through 9, but I’ll point out a few songs that I really love.
In divinity there’s ecstasy (highlights)
Opener Hymn To The Pillory is the song that most reminds me of Slowdive – whispered vocals, the music is ethereal before aggression kicks in after a couple of minutes. It’s timeless qualities are repeated in Dig which is edgier, with a healthy dose of melody. The vocals remind me of hybrid of Neil Halstead and James Iha. There is a dreamy quality to the vocals, which stands in nice contrast to the relatively straightforward aural assault. Heavy stuff, confirmed with a cursory glance at the lyrics “Scratched your name into me / So I cannot not forget”. Brilliant. Towards the latter half of the album I loved Somersault which has an epic feel, washed out leading guitars, and a haunting atmosphere. “Outside the door / the worlds alive / I’ll stay and hide on the otherside”. I’ve felt like that sometimes, now I have a soundtrack for those feelings. Get Well had my toes tapping, one of those songs that gets into a rhythm immediately and never lets up. Repetitive guitar refrain front and center, with a chorus that is on the right side of evil. “There’s gotta be a way / to escape the rain / But I can’t find it”. The title track closes out the record in stunning fashion – mellow, melodic, aggressive – everything the band does well is on display here. What a record!
An album that will surely be on repeat throughout the year, this is a must have. You can check out the album and buy it via the band’s Bandcamp site.
Verdict: Guilty of Brilliance
For Fans of: Slowdive, The Smashing Pumpkins, Dig, Hum, My Bloody Valentine
- Hymn To The Pillory
- Bent Nail
- Get Well
- Beat Around The Bush
- Guilty Of Everything