Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry, Mastering by Sam Patlove
It might just be selective reading, but over the span of the last two or three years, all of the literature that I've read about the city of Cleveland - a place that I've spent relatively no time whatsoever in - harps on the city and its peoples' defeatist or sad attitude. Most of this is focused at their notoriously lousy professional sports teams and many of these pieces of writing came from the pages of Sports Illustrated, but it's one of the only ways that I'm familiar with good old Cleveland. Recently, we all saw the venom fly and the depressed sorts make themselves known to those carrying video cameras looking for soundbites when LeBron James - the home son and some declared holy idol as a basketball player for the Cavaliers - bailed on all those poor people to live in Miami, Florida and play for the city's club, the Heat. Everyone was wrecked by this news, destroyed to think that everything was now even more ruined than it had been before. Suddenly, the Blublockers that everyone had been wearing, turning everything a happy shade of auburn - enhancing the greens in the lawns and trees and bringing smiles all around - weren't working any more. They three all of their mementos of the man-child into the garbage or lit them on fire in the bars and streets and ridded themselves of his memory, the traitor. The city is on crutches and one bet is that the members of the band Cloud Nothings also felt the sting of being left high-and-dry by the multi-millionaire dickhead - if only on principle alone. They might not be NBA fans, but what James did to their city defies interest. It transcends and crosses over into every inch of society, touching everyone who claims the place, even begrudgingly. Cloud Nothings might very well now be the pride and joy of this wobbly city, or they very well could be in due time, helping Clevelanders begin to forget that they no longer have a god. For, within the textures of most of the band's songs, we'll find some of the emotions and a belief system that residents of the town called upon when they were encouraged to justify the rage and betrayal that they felt when James cut town. The team's owner, Dan Gilbert, wrote what's now a famous open letter to James, calling him the ultimate quitter and despite any contrary feelings for where you call home, there's pride there and the Cloud Nothings' fellow people, their neighbors, were hurt considerably. One of the group's songs, "Leave You Forever," and others, are essentially about young love and alienation, but they carry with them the faint whiffs of standing to address something even deeper - something like the ties that bind. This song is a can't let go song, one that delves into the idea of a couple of people who may be better off breaking from each other, but then the chorus kicks in and the thought is, "I could never leave you forever." It's a strong thought and it's what gets most people into the trouble that they get into - sticking around and hanging on. It could be that James was right to get out, but no one can fess to that. Elsewhere in the session, the cool kids are getting our heroes down and elsewhere, on "Weird Sons," there's more instances of going against form and swimming into the current instead of just going along with whatever's easiest. The Cloud Nothings give us these wonderfully energetic and shambling indie rock notions that nothing's that easy to do. It's a pain to be yourself and to be true amongst all of the decay and all of the naysayers.