Cloud Nothings is the brainchild of Dylan Baldi, a Cleveland, Ohio native who was still in his teens when the buzz about his music started. On early releases such as 2011's self-titled debut album, the project was a one-man band specializing in lo-fi punk-pop. Once Baldi recruited other members to give his music more heft, as on 2012's Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings came into its own, and the band mastered its mix of hardcore intensity and deceptively sweet melodies on later albums including 2018's Last Building Burning.
Cloud Nothings began in 2009, when Baldi, then a freshman at Case Western Reserve University studying music/audio technology, started recording songs in his parents' basement when he returned home on the weekends. He posted his songs online with a variety of fake band names, including Cloud Nothings. After uploading the songs "Hey Cool Kid" and "Whaddaya Wanna Know" to his MySpace page, a promoter asked Cloud Nothings to open a Brooklyn show for Woods and Real Estate, and Baldi's imaginary band became a real one when he assembled a lineup for the December 2009 gig.
After dropping out of school to focus on Cloud Nothings, he issued a flurry of releases in 2010 that included singles issued by Group Tightener and Old Flame Records as well as the Turning On EP. On the strength of all this music, Baldi signed to Wichita Records in the U.K. and to Carpark in the U.S.; later that year, Carpark reissued Turning On with selected tracks from his other singles.
Along with dates with Wavves, Titus Andronicus, and Best Coast, Baldi began work on Cloud Nothings' full-length debut in Baltimore, Maryland's Copycat Building studio with producer Chester Gwazda. The results of those sessions became Cloud Nothings, which arrived in January 2011. Later that year, Baldi and his band went into the studio with Steve Albini; the result of these sessions was 2012's much rawer, heavier Attack on Memory. That July saw the release of the Live at Grog Shop EP, which captured a particularly blistering set from Cloud Nothings' tour.