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March 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Nothing feels good | New recordings

Nothing

Nothing, from left: Brandon Setta, Kyle Kimball, Nick Bassett, Domenic Palermo. Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

Nothing
“Guilty of Everything”
(Relapse)

The current crop of shoegaze groups — Philadelphia’s Nothing among them — is staggering enough to rival the style’s early-1990s heyday.

How to explain this?

At least partially, it’s because the right amount of washed-out guitars and gauzy vocals can make twee-pop heavy, or doom metal pretty.

And it’s not exclusive — to play it, one doesn’t need chops so much as effects pedals, sturdy amplification, and a desire to experiment.

Yet where nü-gaze often falls short is originality. The genre’s pioneers — Ireland’s My Bloody Valentine, Scotland’s The Jesus and Mary Chain, England’s Slowdive — made noise and wrote songs. Too frequently now, bludgeoning audiences’ ears takes precedence.

Nothing, however, gets the balance right. The foursome’s debut, “Guilty of Everything,” out Tuesday, is ‘gaze par excellence.

The first thing one notices about Nothing is its guitar sound — bright, tube-driven tones segueing into colossal drop-D riff-offs. The hard-hitting rhythm section shifts tempos assuredly but never showboats, and the top-shelf production ensures nothing gets lost in translation.

While it’s safe to assume frontman Domenic Palermo, guitarist Brandon Setta, bassist Nick Bassett and drummer Kyle Kimball have MBV and JAMC LPs in their collections, the band’s closest reference points are American. Its guitarscapes take after Hum’s cinematic space-rock; its stops and starts, Pelican’s methodical post-metal; its hushed vocals, Seam’s docile slowcore.

The record’s nine songs speed past in 40 minutes, sinking in with repeated plays. This is a musical realm that’s album-oriented by nature, but there’s single potential to every track here, especially the quick-witted “Bent Nail” (listen) and blissed-out “Endlessly” (listen).

Although Relapse remains a record label best known for metal and hardcore, it scored a pair of similarly-minded success stories last year, releasing “Circumambulation,” by Dallas’ True Widow, and distributing “Sunbather,” from San Francisco’s Deafheaven.

“Guilty of Everything” continues that hot streak, and places Nothing in new-school shoegaze’s 99th percentile — a must-hear for daydreamers and headbangers alike.

Stream the whole album here.

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: New Recordings, Philadelphia, shoegaze

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