Over the years, I've come to enjoy listening to music on vinyl. I'm a big fan of the collection aspect behind the whole thing. Trying to be one of the first to snag a limited edition pressing, or reading the album's liner notes and learning more about the band. It adds another level to the listening experience, with the best vinyl packages giving you a peek into the lives and tastes of the artist. But above all else, it's important to me that I have tangible copies of my favorite albums because I'm the type of person to associate music with memories. And owning the music behind the memories is a way to help me keep those memories within arm's reach.
Cleveland indie rock band Cloud Nothings will always hold a special place in my heart. I've listened to album after album of catchy and unique jams for close to ten years, but my fascination with the band goes even further. Cloud Nothings started out as Dylan Baldi's solo project back in 2009. Before Cloud Nothing's full band days, Baldi recorded all of his low-fi first album "Turning On" in his parent's basement. His parent's basement in Westlake, Ohio, the city I grew up in. That's how my love for Cloud Nothings started. I remember being a senior in high school and reading about Cloud Nothings' story in a magazine. Dylan had been at the same high school as me just a few years earlier and now he was blazing down the path of a critically acclaimed rock band.
When I first listened to Cloud Nothings, I did so out of Westlake pride. I loved the idea of having gone to high school with someone who I thought made cool music. Admittedly I wasn't the biggest fan of Dylan's unique vocal style at the outset, but the more I listened, the more I came to dig his sound through and through. Throughout college, I listened to Cloud Nothings records on repeat, especially Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else. As a disgruntled teen and young adult, the angsty songs felt so relatable. I'd always tell myself it was because we grew up in the same place. That my vicinity somehow made me more connected to the raging guitars, heavy drums, and forceful vocals.
I didn't start collecting vinyl until a couple of years later during my junior year of college, and of course, Cloud Nothings records had to be some of the first in my catalog. I started with Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else and continued purchasing and pre-ordering Cloud Nothings albums until I had them all minus their first two releases, Turning On and their self-titled LP. It's always been a goal of mine to have all of the band's releases on wax, and with two left, my collection was almost complete. Cloud Nothing's self-titled has always been easy to find, so I never stressed too much about trying to find that, but "Turning On" was a different story. There was a very limited number of Turning On records pressed back in 2010, and by 2016, the only ones you get your hands on were through Discogs for a couple hundred dollars. Well out of the price range of a broke college student like myself. I was bummed and told myself "someday you'll have extra money."
While I'm still waiting for the extra money to hit, I'm happy to say I'm no longer waiting for a vinyl copy of Turning On. In 2020 Cloud Nothings announced a 10th anniversary second pressing of Turning On. I rushed to pre-order the second I saw their post and secured a copy on "Westlake Water Blue" vinyl. Loved the respects paid to Westlake with the vinyl color. When it arrived in the mail I hurriedly opened the package to start listening. That's when I saw my favorite part of the second pressing. On the back of the record sleeve, was a school photo of Dylan Baldi in Westlake's marching band. I have similar photos of myself from high school and seeing Dylan's on the back of his record made me laugh and smile. It was the ultimate easter egg. I imagine it was a nod toward Baldi's humble beginnings and our insanely strict high school band director Mr. Walczuk.
I've listened to Turning On several times since, and now it always makes me think of marching band days. It reminds me that Dylan Baldi was once making music in his parent's basement, just like I am now, a few streets away in my own parent's basement in Westlake, Ohio.